poem: Footpath

Footpath

Inside me she kicked

tiny, newly formed feet

firm against womb wall

and up into my ribs

when she floated

upside down

 

In bed, between us

she flings her legs in slumber

and doesn’t wake

when her feet hit our backs,

bellies, heads, when she ends up

reversed.

We are too tired to protest.

Maddening at 3 a.m.

and forgivable by dawn

when we roll over and see her

rosebud mouth

suspended in half-smile

of contented sleep.

 

She kicks at her little sister

when fury hits

and then, later,

a boy on the playground

who threatens her sister.

 

She connects with soccer balls

easily now. Proud in new sneakers

that light up when she runs

alongside other girls

and boys.

 

I worry about school.

Will she have it in her to quash

playground taunts?

Stomp out frustration

over answers that don’t come easily?

 

She is a girl now.

My girl.

And I know there will be

a lot of kicking left to do

before she is a woman.

When she is a woman.

 

Doors to kick.

Habits to kick.

Ideas to kick around

while she figures out

who she wants to be.

There will be kicks to the teeth

that rattle her for years.

And kicks in the ass

that help her move

when she’s stuck.

 

It’s kick or be kicked

at every stage.

And I want her to remember

as she is kicking the mud from her boots

that it will be a dirty, hard path.

But she has it,

the strong legs, strong heart, strong mind.

To get her through.

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