[Copic markers and pencil on paper. 9 in by 12 in. Illustrated by Katharen Hedges.]
Tell me I’m pretty.
I mean look me in the eyes,
stare down so deep that you see the ADHD butterflies panicking in my tummy,
with wings so great that with each flap they send shivers down my spine.
Baby when you look at me,
my butterflies don’t fly,
They soar up through my body,
migrating north until I catch them in my throat before they can escape and tell you
what I am not ready for you to hear.
You wreak havoc,
cause early migrations and change flight patterns,
all because you,
you called me pretty.
I’m telling you now that when you say these things,
I won’t believe you.
I’ll laugh it off or ignore you.
But Baby, please,
please, keep trying.
Baby, slap a gold star on my big behind every day so that I know,
to you, I’m special.
Those gold stars I will keep forever,
I’ll make constellations that shine over my bed,
so at night the star that I wish upon will always be yours.
Baby, put me on a stage in front of a microphone
just so you can shout
“That’s my girl, my baby!!”
As a wildfire
spreads across my cheeks and leads a blazing trail straight down to my belly,
burning so hot I can’t breathe
and every gasp of air only stokes it.
Draw smiley faces on my work so I know that I am making you just as happy as you make me,
so that pretty soon,
those lopsided smiles will leap off the page and land themselves right over my mouth.
Know that there will be times where I don’t believe you.
there will be a lot of times where I don’t believe you
when you call me pretty.
where you see big, beautiful brown eyes,
I see muddy pools that so many people have washed their feet in.
Where you see a bright smile,
I see crooked teeth that were never graced by the magic of an orthodontist’s gloved hands.
Where you see a big heart that is meant for laughter,
there are times I feel a brick wall
shielding me from more hurt, more pain, more disappointment and rejection.
But Baby I am telling you right here, right now that if you care enough to huff and puff,
blow this house down.
But I need to see you huff and puff so bad that you need my inhaler.
So hard that you need a ventilator.
Baby, I know that I haven’t found you yet.
just know that I will keeping trying,
keep searching for you in every walk in the park,
every rock concert.
In every car with its windows rolled down
and every trip to the produce aisle.
I will not give up on finding you,
because when I find you,
you will not give up on me.
I will search the stage of the sky for you,
filled with smiling stars
I will send you smoke signals by setting my flight pattern ablaze
and they will beckon you home
I just have one last thing to tell you, Baby:
I don’t know who you are,
I don’t know what you want,
but I will look for you,
I will find you,
and I will keep you.