Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #496: Absent

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21 Years + 1 Month, 2 Weeks, and 3 Days

He grew up with an absent father
but an omnipresent mother
who blamed him for losing the father
who hadn’t minded the ball
but hadn’t want the chain
attached to it.
She had given birth,
but she hadn’t given life,
and when he had the chance
to meet a girl
who loved his brokenness
because she believed
it complemented her wholeness,
he, so eager to prove that
he wasn’t his father’s son,
planted a part of himself in her,
only for her to do
what his mother had always wished
she had done.

https://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/wednesday-poetry-prompts-496

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Why I Tell My Daughter She’s Beautiful

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When I mentioned to someone I trusted that my daughter was getting genetically tested, I explained, “To find out why she is the way she is.”

It was never to “figure out what’s wrong with her,” because I don’t see anything wrong.  She isn’t broken, in need of fixing, but rather, in need of additional guidance and patience to help her be the best person she can be.  Just like I needed math tutors last semester.

All test results were normal, though I’ve been asked by many people (all health professionals) if she was autistic.  She is definitely somewhere on the spectrum, but on the high-functioning end.

When my mother was alive, all she saw was her specialness, not her special needs.  “That’s just who she is,” she would say, because for her, and for me, and for all who love her, it was that whole unique and wonderfully-made thing.

*

My child has the most incredible memory, whereas mine is pretty crappy.  Sometimes I ask my husband if he remembers if I ate anything for breakfast.  I feel like Kelly Bundy from “Married With Children” in that episode where she loses a fact every time she gains a fact, because there’s only so much space in her airhead; she forgets on a game show a football trivia question about her father–something about these things called touchdowns.

However, a memory like my daughter’s has its challenges.  It took me forever to get her to unlearn “shit,” after my parents thought it was freaking hilarious when she tipped out of her Minnie Mouse chair and said, “Awww, shit!”  When they told me about it, I couldn’t help but laugh, even though I admonished her later that young ladies don’t use that word.

That’s said, salty language and an overabundance of sweet snacks are truly the stuff of grandparents.

*

My daughter also has an incredible ear for sounds–she actually corrected the teacher on the difference between a helicopter and an airplane.  As much as I would love for her thing to be words, I believe it will be music.

*

When a “neurologist” (I’m not even sure what she was, she didn’t even bother introducing herself or familiarizing herself with my child’s medical record before her appointment) said that our daughter’s face had a trace of dysmorphia, my husband got pissed while I got so upset, I started crying.

On the way home, I kept looking back for some trace of what this woman saw, but all I saw was this stunningly beautiful little girl with perfectly symmetrical features and enviable blue eyes.  I like to joke with my dad that all other kids looked like dogs after I had mine (not really, but parents are biased).

*

I know it’s a Thing for girls to want to be superheroes over princesses, to major in STEM, and for their parents to praise their strength rather than their beauty, and I get some of that, but there will be plenty of people in my daughter’s life who will say something unkind.  It is my job–my calling–as her mother, to build her up without tearing others down.

My mom grew up thinking she was ugly because her mom never told her she was pretty (and she was!), and so my mom always told me I was–even when I was going through this hideous awkward stage where I looked like the female (and brunette) version of that bully in A Christmas Story.  (At least I did in one of my school pictures.)  Of course, I believed Mom only said that because she was my mother, but I know she meant it, too.

That said, my mom always told me that her grandmother told her that “Pretty is as pretty does.”  I let my daughter know when she is being ugly, just as I tell her that she is strong and smart and all those other things.

*

I’m not blind to my daughter’s quirks, but it rubbed me the wrong way when the people at the center seemed like they were trying to push us into “family planning” (like to have another one like the one I have would be so horrible).  I don’t even like the way “family planning” sounds,  and I don’t practice it.  I don’t feel that way because a man in the Vatican or a bunch of men in Salt Lake don’t believe in it (Jesus died for me, they didn’t), but it’s my personal, spiritual belief.  (I will, however, concede that I would probably feel differently if I had more than half a dozen.)

Sometimes you just want to say someone, “Let they who are without imperfection be the first to cast the first birth control pill,” because we’re not talking Tay-Sachs or Huntington’s chorea here.  My daughter isn’t suffering–she is one of the happiest kids I know.  She’s never even thrown a tantrum.  She’s gotten upset and frustrated, but she’s never been one of those little horrors you see on that British nanny show.

*

My daughter has shown me that we are more than our genes, our chromosomes, our cells, for they only tell part of the story of who we are, and what amazing things we can become.

#Micropoetry Monday: Things We Set On Fire

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She blurred him from every record,
burned every photograph,
the ink dripping off the page,
mixing with the ashes at her feet,
but it wasn’t till he returned to the earth
in a pile of dust,
that she was able to breathe it all back in.

One man discusses climate change,
the other, pro-life policies.
Two futures—imminent & distant—
the former, having affected his ancestors,
the latter, his descendants.

It was a book of drunken incest,
& admonitions for slaves
to obey their cruel taskmasters.
There was the genocide of children–
rainbow promises that never again
would God destroy the earth with a flood,
but rather,
with every other thing.
It was the story of a jealous God,
a God who played favorites,
but a God who sent His Son–
a better version of Himself.

For here lies the Morgan family memorial–
the Morgans,
who lived together by choice,
who died together from having that choice
taken away,
& whose ashes,
in the same vessel,
were scattered–
death imitating itself.

When they lost their wealth,
they softened their conservative values,
for to accept help long enough
was more important than making
what was already hard,
harder than it had to be.