My Father's Daughter

by N.V. of Da World

As my shoulder bears the weight of your mother's head,
my arms offering her comfort after a long day as we lay in our bed
As you lay in your mother's womb,
I am dreaming of you

I imagine that in the delivery room
that cold morning in October
You will be born as the byproduct
of a God-checked, God-spent, God-blessed union
between a Virgo and her Capricorn
You will enter the world at birth
with skin the color of the Pink Panther,
but bearing the unconquerable soul of a Black one
On the surface, you will have my hazel eyes,
but your mother's teeth and versatile hair
We will call you Jasmine, the name I fought with your mother for,
with the compromise that your mother's name be the middle name to yours

When you are two, you will walk for the first time
much the same way you will walk for the rest of your life:
rising, gracefully yet unsure, hoping your feet will support you
the first three times you attempt to stand,
you will fall back down onto the carpet with a flop
the fourth time, with your mother's courage,
you will stand tall and take a step, then two, then three, then four
smiling at your first conquest, knowing you will have so many more

When you are five, not too long after your mother and I's first son comes along,
in the dark of night, you will hear us arguing
You will hear many punches thrown, but not a single one will be physical
You will leave your bed just as the final round is about to commence
You will knock softly on our bedroom door
You will say something along the lines of, "Be quiet, my brother's sleeping"
Your mother and I will look at you with the same amazed, incredulous look
Then we will laugh, partly because we know you are right about your brother
Partly because you are commanding authority at such a young age
You will ask us outright, "why are you shouting at each other?"
Your mother and I will look at each other, and I will simply nod
I will pick you up and carry you back to your room and tuck you in,
and then I will tell you, "mommy and daddy sometimes don't agree,
and because we can't agree, we argue, but we don't fight
But from now on, we will whisper when we argue 
so you and your brother can sleep. How about that?"
I will hear you giggle and smile, then kiss you goodnight
then turn off the bedside lamp and turn on your nightlight
This is the night you will begin to speak out for what you felt was right

When you are thirteen, you will have to get braces
Not so much because it's what everyone else has, 
but because it's what the dentist said you needed
By then, you and your brother will have been spoiled
You will have gotten used to being treated the way a young lady ought to be treated
You will come home one day in tears, half angry, half sad
Not knowing where else to take it out, you shout at your brother because you are mad
Your mother will try to talk to you, you'll simply look away
I'll ask your mother what's wrong with you, she'll tell me, you wouldn't say
I'll immediately assume the worst, thinking it involves a boy
And a boy is in fact the reason, but not for the reasons I think
You will tell me you were made fun of, you will hold in your tears while you pout
You will tell me this boy you liked at school called you 'an ugly metal mouth'
I will tell you it does not matter, because you are beautiful to me
I will tell you, you are the continuation of generations of a wondrous legacy
You are the child of activists, dreamers, entrepreneurs,
the next in line of confident family women who all got talked about, but all ignored
what others had to say, in order to go on and do things bigger than they'd ever been done before
This is when you will learn you are only as beautiful as you believe yourself to be
This is will I will learn I cannot be there to protect my little girl from everything

When you are seventeen (and ten months, as you like to say), you will graduate high school
at the top of your class, just like your daddy did
You will wear a Kente cloth over your gown and around your tassels,
'symbolic,' you will say, of my people in the past and present struggle
You will walk across that stage when they call your name,
and your mother, your brother, and I will shout and scream as though we are insane
I will see you and be proud of the young woman we have raised
We will stop and take pictures of you afterwards, your face as bright as the shining sun
And then your friends will call you over, and you'll tell us, "Sorry, I have to run"
That's when I'll have to accept that Daddy's Little Girl is no longer one

You will go on to higher education, meet a young man, build a family
You will call and visit on holidays and birthdays
You will write your younger brother on MySpace
You will ask your mother and I to babysit when you go on long trips
We will pray for your safe leave and return
Your mother and I will hope we gave you a good family model for your own
Your mother and I will remind you that you are still our Baby Girl, 
even though you are off on your own
I will look down upon you smiling, as you and your mother cry at my funeral
I will hear you say "I love you, Daddy," and knowing I cannot come back down from above
I will wish I could reply, and be left wondering if I ever said 'I love you' back, enough

But for now, as my shoulder bears the weight of your mother's head,
my arms offering her comfort after a long day as we lay in our bed,
As you lay in your mother's womb, I am holding her dreaming of you
I am praying, I am wishing, whenever you may step, whenever you may falter,
in doing all I hope to do, you are never ashamed to say, "I am my father's daughter"

My Father's Daughter by N.V. of Da World

© Copyright 2008. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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