(It’s been awhile since I’ve shared a finished poem.  I do want to show you what my writing challenge has produced.  I’ve teased at this poem on YouTube.  I finally completed it a couple days ago.  Consider this a free preview.)

If you ever tell me that I don’t understand,
I’ll respond, “You don’t know how right you are.”

You’ll be separated and fetishized
Bad with two d’s
But never really called beautiful
I promise to say it enough to fill the cups of the whole world
Because your beauty isn’t tied to the size of your breasts
It’s not even about your skin
Your glorious skin
Whether Iroko or Azobe
Kissed constantly by the Sun
You are beautiful because
You exist.
You are you.
As long as you think, you are
Cogito ergo sum

I will be repetitive
Until your face turns red
The blush in your cheeks will be from the foundation of my adoration
I’m starting this now
So there’s no need for you to make up things to cover your face
No pretending
No make-believe or Maybelline
People will see your glow
And know you were born with it.

I’ll say “I love you”
Until you get it
And I’ll say
“You don’t know how wrong you are.”
Daddy’s little girl doesn’t protect you in this world
That’s probably scarier for me than it is you.
The moment you leave your mother’s womb
Parental protection becomes finite.
Not everyone who will hold you will do so with best regard
They will hear the joy in your laughter and attempt to silence it
I’m afraid that outside of cradling you in my arms
I won’t know what to do
What to say when you’re too old for “hush little baby”
And when that song won’t stop your cry
Daddy’s gonna ask Heaven for some advice.
You don’t know
Hopefully, you never do
When I don’t know if I’m leading you in the right direction
Hopefully, you say,
“You don’t know how wrong you are.”

If you can’t find someone who looks like you to help you through life
When teachers
Black woman teachers
Will not help you become women like them
I’m here
So you won’t become women like them
I won’t have all the answers
I don’t even know where the study guide is
But I do know that I love you
Enough to say “go ask your mother”
Not because I’m teaching you that men will abandon you in your time of need
I am showing you that you have the finest example of what a Black woman should be right here
If you need someone who looks like you,
Who better than mom and dad?

You don’t have a name
But you do
Eliane Shanira
Daughter of the Sun
Warmed by the Sun
You won’t always be under my watchful eye.
Your time away from me will feel like night
Some evenings will be adventures on the town
And others will try to scare you with overwhelming darkness
Should you ever feel afraid of the dark
Because night mares think they can bring harm to my baby girl
Call upon that Cherika smile
For that is your light from me
And every night will be your Aurora
Dawn in another form.

I’ve seen you in my dreams.
Wearing your mother’s eyes
Smiling, bearing those dimples that I get only when truly, truly happy
What will I do when this world tries to deflate the air in your cheeks?
You can be down to Earth and still glow like the celestial being you are intended to be
I will help
So with the more you know
The farther you’ll streak across the cosmos
When others see you
They’ll forever cherish that moment

I don’t want your thanks, baby girl
I’m just being the Sun
No matter the season
If you feel summer heat or wintry chill
Remember I’ll always be there
Every single day
I’m your dad
And I love you.