Transcript for Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter …
My advice, go to this link and listen to Sarah Kay read this poem as you read along.
If I should have a daughter, instead of Mom, she’s gonna call me Point B, because that
way she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to
me. And I’m going to paint solar systems on the backs of her hands, so she has to learn
the entire universe before she can say, “Oh, I know that like the back of my hand.”
And she’s going to learn that this life will hit you hard in the face, wait for you to get back up
just so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only
way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air. There is hurt here that
cannot be fixed by Band-Aids or poetry. So the first time she realizes that Wonder
Woman isn’t coming, I’ll make sure she knows she doesn’t have to wear the cape all by
herself. Because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers, your hands will always be
too small to catch all the pain you want to heal. Believe me, I’ve tried.
“And, baby,” I’ll tell her, don’t keep your nose up in the air like that. I know that trick; I’ve done it a million
times. You’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail back to a burning house,
so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire to see if you can save him. Or else
find the boy who lit the fire in the first place, to see if you can change him.” But I know
she will anyway, so instead I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boots
nearby, because there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix. Okay, there’s a few
heartbreaks that chocolate can’t fix. But that’s what the rain boots are for. Because rain
will wash away everything, if you let it. I want her to look at the world through the
underside of a glass-bottom boat, to look through a microscope at the galaxies that exist
on the pinpoint of a human mind, because that’s the way my mom taught me. That
there’ll be days like this. ♫ There’ll be days like this, my momma said. ♫ When you open
your hands to catch and wind up with only blisters and bruises; when you step out of the
phone booth and try to fly and the very people you want to save are the ones standing
on your cape; when your boots will fill with rain, and you’ll be up to your knees in
And those are the very days you have all the more reason to say thank
you. Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop
kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s swept away. You will put the wind in
winsome, lose some. You will put the star in starting over, and over. And no matter how
many land mines erupt in a minute, be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny
place called life. And yes, on a scale from one to over-trusting, I am pretty damn naive.
But I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily, but
don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it. “Baby,” I’ll tell her, “remember, your
momma is a worrier, and your poppa is a warrior, and you are the girl with small hands
and big eyes who never stops asking for more.” Remember that good things come in
threes and so do bad things. And always apologize when you’ve done something wrong.
But don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining.
Your voice is small, but don’t ever stop singing. And when they finally hand you heartache, when they
slip war and hatred under your door and offer you handouts on street-corners of
cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really ought to meet your mother.
If you made it through that, I know that you might like to hear what my take was. The directions were to pick a line that spoke to you and just write. This is what I wrote:
when you step out of the phone booth and try to fly and the very people you want to save are the ones standing
on your cape… because all I’ve ever wanted to do is change the world. Fix the hurt. Make the pain disappear. Erase your past and let you start anew, but know the past is what makes you, you. I want to take you home with me because I know that I can’t change the past, but I sure as hell can change the now. I can’t take away what your mother told you, or what your father said yesterday. I can’t change your culture or distort the viewpoint of entire generations. But what I can do is give you the book that will change your life, give you the book that will help you find solace in another world, another time. I know that what you need is that place that fixes everything, so, please, get off my cape. The only person I’m trying to rescue is you.