I want my sons to grow up
in a world where they don’t
need to be trained to defend
their bodies taut at every moment.
They should only need to know fighting
for the exercise, the side-effect physique,
not because they could be beaten
into the wrong side of the sidewalk
they’d stumbled upon in ignorance.
Boys born taking half-breaths and eggshell steps
only learn to breathe after and walk around others.
They struggle to find their own pace and path,
ever worrying what they’ll discover down the road,
preferring to wait until someone else takes it first,
and manages a grand return.
They shouldn’t be required to wear
belts as last-ditch defenses,
lashing back against passersby turned assailants.
I want their hearts and souls
to be bigger so their bodies don’t require
the same girth as their grandfathers’ –
ever puffing and blowing up to inflate themselves,
to intimidate predators from ever attacking.
My sons, you will break bones and bloody noses
with your minds.
You will wrestle with your fear
and win, one day, unlike your father.
You will stand tall for what you believe is right,
not slink away and hope the issue resolves itself.
Because it never does, and folks will take
advantage of your weakness,
your quietness, your foolish and pitiful
attempts at appeasement.
They will rip your belts from your hips
and use them to beat you into submission
until all you have left to give them
is your blood. But they won’t want it.
It’s not strong enough to drink.