I see you there, six
with your skinned knees and short hair,
chasing after the boys down the street
with a skateboard under your arm.
I see you wanting to fit in
with your brother, even
wearing his clothes. Wanting to
be the same.
(But in secret, wearing your cousin’s
princess hat and staring at your pretty
reflection in the mirror.)
I see you, too, thirteen,
hormones surging and body changing and
so uncertain of the person you are becoming.
I see your fear and excitement. I see you
wishing you were prettier, and thinner,
and stronger, and taller
and not recognizing the grace and
strength you show when you score a goal
in the last five minutes on the soccer field.
And, oh, twenty. I see you. I see you
floundering and less certain of yourself
than you’ve ever been.
I see you counting bites of rice
and scraping butter off of bread.
I see the scars –
the scars you gave yourself to hide the scars
that men left you with, both seen and unseen.
I see you wanting to give up.
I see you, though, fighting back,
with different hair colors every month
and secret tattoos and nose rings –
rebelling, but also trying to hold on.
And now, thirtyfour, I see you.
I see you bemused and happy, annoyed
and confident. I see you poking your doughy middle,
riddled with stretchmarks, recent and old, faded and new.
I see you looking wistfully at the jeans in the back
of the closet,
knowing you should just get rid of them
(but hanging on, just in case).
I see you both proud of a body
that grew life
and nourished life,
and embarrassed that it still wobbles when
you laugh too hard.
I see you portioning vegetables for small
fingers, and I see you rushing back into the house
because you forgot to
brush your teeth before loading up the car.
I see you holding dimpled hands
and kissing owies
and rubbing sleepy heads.
I see you giving everything you can
but still hoping to hold on to
just a bit