A Really Messy and Emotional Poem

I’ve been really introspective this past week. It’s been a busy time of change and growth, and I’ve been reflecting more on the many important milestones in my life: the things that, together, made me who I am today. One of these important building blocks is poetry, some written by me and some by others throughout history. Poetry has always been an important way for me to share my feelings and to feel the beauty in the world.

So this article is going to be a little bit of a break from the usual. Instead of my usual five- or six- paragraph essay analyzing and critiquing, I decided to open myself up a little bit and share part of myself with you. This is a poem I wrote last fall when my family was fostering a few kids. Here it is, without further ado.


She’s just eight years old, and already she’s been through more in her young life than I can relate to

I don’t even know about half of it, but what I do know is she’s been severely hurt

Hurt by people she should’ve been able to trust

Hurt by people who probably told her at some point

“I love you”

But by their actions showed they meant none of it

“I love you”

So I made a promise to myself, before she came, that I wasn’t going to say that

I wasn’t going to use those words which might hold echoes of the voices of the people who hurt her

I wouldn’t say it

But one night, a few weeks after she came to us, I was putting her to bed

Sometimes I put my little brother to bed

It’s a familiar pattern

You hit the lights and say “I love you”

Those heavily charged words

Words which I would never say to her

They just slipped out

“I love you”

Once I had released them, I realized my mistake

I looked at her, tried to gauge her reaction

She gave a kind of fractional smile and passed over the incident, not addressing it

Why did I say that?

She’s loud, she’s messy, she’s always looking for attention

She annoys me

That’s not love, is it?

Why did I say that?

I knew the answer almost before the question

I did love her

Not the kind of love you read about in books and stories of perfect families and rose-colored glasses

Not the kind of love I had envisioned her parents thinking they had for her

She’s loud, she’s messy, she’s always looking for attention

She annoys me

But that night I realized that without knowing it, I had made a choice

“I love you”

I love you despite how loud and messy and

Different from me you are

Despite the fact that I don’t know you

Not the kind of love that comes effortlessly, with fanfare and fireworks

Not the kind you think of when you hear the word “family”

This is the kind of love that is just a whisper in the dark

A love you have to choose.

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