Do you remember how we first met?
It was the first cool autumn day of the season,
And gray skies hung threateningly above us.
We passed along the sidewalk,
Leaves crunching beneath our feet,
As I hurried to my afternoon class.
Do you remember me?
I wore my dress shoes,
My black skirt, which fell just above my knees.
I had on my long-sleeved, sky blue shirt
beneath my favorite black petty-coat,
which hung unbuttoned,
blowing in the wind, because I was late,
And my fast pace had warmed me.
Some of my brown hair was pulled back in a clip,
While the rest lay around my chilled ears.
Do you remember me?
As I walked towards you,
And you to me,
You blocked my path on the sidewalk,
And I walked in the dirt to get around you.
Your eyes dropped to my feet,
And for a moment,
I thought you were offering me your respect,
Or maybe even about to ask if I had any spare change.
But instead, your eyes made their way back up to my face,
Slowly, with exaggerated motioning of your head,
You passed along the different places of my body.
Like a couple on a Sunday drive,
You moseyed along the route, resting here and there,
To pause and to observe,
Possibly even to admire or desire,
if I might be so bold to declare.
A hot blush ran along my chest and face,
I can imagine,
And I quickened my pace,
Infuriated and embarrassed.
With a strong, deep, surprisingly demanding voice, you called out,
And I instinctively turned,
Although I did not want to.
This time, your voice softening significantly,
To lower, smoother tones,
You asked me, “What’s yo name?”
I told you, “I have to go to class, so you can leave me be.”
Your hands came up, open, in defense,
“Whoah, sorry there, I undastand,” you said slyly.
I looked back over my shoulder only once,
To be certain that I was alone.
So, dear Sir,
With all due respect,
I’d like to tell you of two men I have in my life.
Both have my respect, unconditionally,
But if respect were earned based on merit,
These men would have more respect
Than they’d know what to do with.
The first man
is a man whom I love.
I remember the moment when we first met:
He looked into my eyes,
Not at my legs, covered only by my running shorts,
Or at my sweaty brow or my old T-shirt.
This man is now my closest friend,
The most intimate and true friend whom I’ve ever had.
This man has seen me without my makeup,
He has seen my eyes red with tears,
He has seen me sick with fever,
And he has even sacrificed his own health
To care for me when I had that fever.
This man has been present and steadfast
In my lowest moments,
And he has laughed with me in my greatest ones.
He has given me advice for my problems,
And he has shared with me his wisdom.
He has even told me the truth,
When I didn’t want to hear it.
He’s so strong that he can scoop me up from the ground,
All 145 pounds in a dead lift,
To toss me onto the couch like a feather,
Or to set me down like a porcelain teacup.
He can dance with me gracefully,
Even when I’m a toe-stepper.
He can guide me around in a spin
Like a princess with her prince,
Even when I’m possibly
The most uncoordinated person
He has ever encountered in his life.
This man is my hero,
Because even when he is tired from work,
He has the patience to call me on the phone,
And to listen to my excited chatter,
Simply because he knows that time with him matters to me.
He has an indomitable spirit,
And can overcome any challenge that comes his way.
He has the humility
To admit when he is wrong,
And to make things right between the two of us
When we have disagreed.
This man loves me when I am unlovable,
Respects me when I disrespect him,
Forgives me when I am wrong,
Holds me when I am weak,
Laughs when I laugh,
Dances when I dance,
Sings when I sing.
I know this man has love on his mind,
And not lust,
Because when I smile at him,
His favorite thing to do
Is to cup my face in his hands,
And to kiss the crown of my head.
He makes me feel like the most valuable person in his world.
Never a day goes by when this man
Does not tell me that he loves me,
Or that I am beautiful.
He has earned my trust,
And I have given it to him.
There is no seemingly safer place in the world
Than in his strong yet tender embrace.
When I have a wedding ring on my finger,
This man can linger his eyes on any place of my body,
For as long as he desires,
Whenever he would like,
Because this man,
Beyond a shadow of a doubt,
Finds my heart
More beautiful than my body.
I know that this man,
Loves me, for me.
This man is a 5th degree black belt.
The second man,
Is a man who heard my first cries.
Watched as I took my first breath,
And changed my diapers.
He taught me to ride my bike,
And he taught me to read and to write.
He braided my hair,
Gave me my baths,
Taught me right from wrong,
Drove me to school,
And watched most of my soccer games.
He buried my cat
And he held me when I wept,
He watched as I woke up from my heart surgery,
And he has worked hard every day of my life
So that I could go to private school,
Live in a safe home,
Have food on the table,
And comfortable clothes to wear.
This man did not grip the edges of the seat,
When I first got behind the wheel of the car,
And he has the most joyful smile you’ll ever see.
He sees the bright side of everything,
Has an endless abundance of patience,
And I know he’ll always love me
Even if I make a thousand mistakes in a day.
He is gentle as a dove on the outside,
But fierce as a snake if you cross his path,
And he can protect, provide,
Counsel, and advise.
He seems to have the solution to every one of my problems
No matter how old I get.
He took pictures of me in my dress on my prom,
He read every one of my letters home from boot camp.
He got me my passport so I could go to the Dominican Republic and Haiti,
And he even encouraged me to keep my doors open when
I met with FBI agents as I explored career opportunities.
He’s picked me up when I’ve fallen,
Given of his entire self for my sake,
Stayed awake with me in the night when I could not sleep,
Freely taught me lessons
That he learned at a cost.
I could make the greatest mistake in the world,
And I know that if I came to him,
He’d help me back to my feet again,
And teach me how to continue forward.
This man watched as I grew from ribbons to pearls,
Lip gloss to lip stick,
Footy pajamas to sweats,
Elementary school to college,
Which is where you and I first met.
This man is my father.
I am a daughter,
The next time you wish to flatter me,
Please, do not look at my body,
Look at my eyes.
Do not ask my name
So that I’ll jump into bed with you.
Ask my name,
So you can greet me when we meet.
If you’d like to tell me I am beautiful,
Hold open the door for me,
Or walk with me to class.
One day, a woman will arrive,
Who will cross your path,
Like I crossed yours on the sidewalk.
Instead of blocking her way,
Let her pass.
She is a sister,
She could be your lover.
When she turns to you,
Look her in the eye,
And offer her a smile.
Seek to know her heart,
Before you know her body.
Don’t lust her.
Become her friend,
Not her nightmare.
Show her respect,
As she passes,
And maybe, just maybe,
She’ll be the one to turn to you,
And ask what your name is.