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May 2017
Brother, you told me once you were scared
to have a daughter.

You knew this when you baby-sat
a baby girl with your wife,

and you, a former American Army infantryman

melted and was brought down in a way

that the guns you faced in Afghanistan never could.

She’ll be my princess, I remember you saying.

A little girl all dressed in pink,
whatever she’ll ask for, you'll give it.

You were relieved when the first child

you and your wife had was

a baby boy, but to be honest,

you melt all the same,
even 9 months later.

But I’ve always wanted to ask,
“Why are you afraid to have a daughter?”

You know the stories how our mother gave birth for the first time

and how she labored in the car
when she drove herself to the hospital.

And how your pregnant wife came home on her lunches from work

and would cry on the floor because her back hurt so bad,

But she still sat up and went back to work--

the same way our older sister cried on her first day back

from maternity leave and parted with her baby boy for the first time,

the same way Mom went back to work when you and Dad deployed.

What you know of women is that we’re strong,

that we dry our tears and continue on with the world.

Really what we do is keep the world spinning
with the force of how much we love.

So anything, you give your daughter
will be returned in multitudes.

You were taught the same way to love that I was--

instinctively and unconditionally and unrelentingly.

And maybe you’re afraid that your daughter

won’t be able to walk home alone at night

or that no one will listen to her,

And you know this is a poem from your younger sister.

So savor that I’m saying you’re not wrong,
because I don't know when that will happen again.

Your daughter may have to work harder to be heard

and to keep herself safe than any son you have.

But know no matter, how strong she is or how hard she works

that **** still happens

and it won’t be her fault.

and you know because you have two sisters

and you’ve heard our stories.

Statistics say that 1 in 3 women experience ****** or physical violence.

We have one President, who bragged on a Hollywood Access bus

about grabbing women by the *****  

because they let him

and because no one stopped him.

Brother, be scared of the men who would hurt your daughter,

but brother, don’t be scared to have a daughter,

Because she will love you the same way
your wife, your mother,

and your sisters have loved,

that our bodies may break and tear in the doing
but we will choose to do it all over again.
Laura Slaathaug
Written by
Laura Slaathaug  North Dakota
(North Dakota)   
1.0k
       Walter W Hoelbling, ---, --- and Elizabeth J
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