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It is a weekend of reaching out, I guess. I’ve been contacted by four former students, all boys, this weekend, via fb message and text. My girl students all say they miss me, but can’t admit to their struggles the way the boys can. What have we conditioned into them? Are the boys more comfortable relating their struggles to someone of the opposite gender because we’ve somehow taught them that they can’t struggle in front of other men? Have we done the same to girls? I know that I have a hard time being vulnerable in front of other women, so maybe.   Or maybe insecurity is genderless, and I just have a conspiratorial face, like Nick Carraway.

My amazing bossfriend’s daughter graduated from high school this weekend. She was ten when I met her, and worked as our unprecedentedly great nanny for a couple of years. She is undeniably the most beautiful girl in this one-horse town, but her adolescence has been one enormous challenge after another that she has faced so bravely that I could cry just thinking about her strength.

Tonight I poem for Autumn.

Autumn

Autumn, as you build your shelter anew, we, the women, give you branches. Build a house, be housed in the limbs of a pretty tree, be held by branches, cloaked in needles, home at long last, feel comfortable, look back to the rhizome, to the root, to the mother who gives you shelter. You have a strength that flows like the sap of your raising, up through your limbs, long and brown and tall, you take with you the care of giant hearts. You are well-armed with pain, the pain of an adolescence that makes you wise beyond years, you have earned the blessing of wisdom. Well-earned, growing up different in a homogenized state is pure, heart-gripped bravery, whether you recognize it yet or not. You are one bold move after another, and have learned lifetimes in short years, clawed, pushing and scrabbling, out of great darknesses, don’t you dare forget it, the strength it took to push back the covers and rise, day after day, to put on the boots that allowed you to trample on their cruelty, don’t you ever forget it. Watching you do it has been our lesson, big and new and brave, if there was a word I could give to take with you, it would be that,

you are brave, you are brave, you are brave.

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I want to give this to her like a hymn, to carry with her where she goes next. I wish you could all meet her and be as inspired. Happy Saturday, poemhearts.

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