by Ashley Alavarez
Do you know what it’s like?
Do you know what it is like
to hold someone so precious
and be unsure if your hands are enough
to protect the girl in your arms?
The first time I asked myself this question
I was seven years old;
it was the first time I held her.
She was six pounds, with not a hair on her head.
And I would sing her to sleep,
hide beneath her rocker,
cry when she cried,
do everything to make up for the feeling
that my hands were not enough.
They were not enough to make my baby sister happy.
They were not enough.
I am seventeen years old
and I know I cannot protect the women I hold.
I cannot protect my friends
from the microaggressions of our peers
from the ignorance of our teachers
from the off-hand comments that fall on our ears.
Worst of all, I cannot protect them
I cannot protect them from the voices in their heads,
the voices that remind them
you can do better
you should eat less
you look fat in that sweater
you’ll never be the best.
I wish I was eloquent enough
to give you the poem you deserve.
Because ___, you are enough.
You are beautiful.
Your body, your soul, your energy
your being is art.
From the outside in,
your beauty is not only within.
____, you are enough.
I’m sorry: my hands are not enough
but maybe my endless words will be enough
to prove to you that