By the ripe old age of three I’d learned
not to expect my father for dinner,
not to wonder why my mother cried every night, and
to eat whatever Granny made and to do my homework
so I could nourish my body and my brain.
By the ripe old age of thirteen I’d learned
that just because I had curves
it didn’t mean every male had to ride them.
That I wouldn’t find my father in the backseat
of someone’s car or the alley behind our house.
By the ripe old age of twenty- three I’d learned
how to love myself enough to love someone else.
I’d learned enough that I’d never leave my child at home
while I searched the streets for other company
or replacement parts.
By the ripe old age of thirty-three I learned
that forgiving my father empowered me.
It gave me the freedom to look past,
his failings as a father and look forward
to his performance as a grandfather.