I was the kid who got picked last,
but what you saw of me was only my beginning.
And, in that beginning,
you taught me how to be all shell, no turtle.
You heaped hatred on my back and said,
“carry this; it’s too heavy for me.”
And, thank you:
Now, I’m so tough
that sometimes I’m not worth the effort.
And, other times,
I use words to move mountains.
I may not always understand the value of the person
buried beneath the weight I was made to carry,
but I do understand how to make someone feel small,
and how to resist that temptation when I want to feel bigger.
That is a lesson I learned before my kneecaps settled,
when, in the second grade,
I befriended the girl who got pushed into trash cans.
It started a cycle of values that loaded burdens on my back
that weren’t mine to carry,
but also, weren’t heavy enough to unload on someone else.
They’ve gotten lighter.
I no longer walk with a hunch.
Though, there is a curvature that’s evidence
of how much taller I’ve become.
Tall enough to look you in the eye,
“I was the kid who got picked last,
so if I am strong now,
it is because I was meek then,
and have since gained strength enough
to choose when to be meek again.”