Engage & Learn

Letter to my unborn daughter

when you are first conceived
i won’t remember the time it happened.
permanently trailed by my shady past
foreshadowing apparent,
when told of your genesis
i will feel the breath of God heavy against my skin
sunken in anxiety like a mother half-asleep anticipating her son’s arrival
from city streets keeping him wrapped up longer than she ever could.
i apologize now,
before you develop into a spitting image of the woman that gives birth to you
before you are gobbled up by cut throat boys whose adam apples are lumps at the neck of lust
i will swallow regret

regurgitating an apology from the lining of my esophagus,
realizing you are preordained to despise your origin
or me.
your childhood a glittering graphic galore of glamorous

fairytale endings.
lost teddy bears easily replaced,
playing dress up in the finest fabric,
scraped knees bandaged with trips for ice cream,
barrettes tied to pony tails and cartoons;

distracting you
from more than just the animation of a smile your mother will sketch on to stay drawn to mine.

my princess
I plan to answer all math problems until

….the 7th grade
I am already beginning to forget how to add fractions
but by then you would have become one.
your first boyfriend will be without any of my knowledge
yet I will know him before you do.
he will be charming.
he will cheat on tests,
copy homework,
steal lunchroom milks to quench his thirst,
with good intentions carried in his cheek.
bad decisions disheveling his conscious.
he will be your first
he will cheat,
copy his father,
steal kisses from other preteen girls in the lunchroom
to quench his thirst
my mouth dry with mosaic responses
when bombarded with lungs full of questions
like “why are boys such jerks?”
wanting to know why male adolescent
respiratory systems function to inhale virginities and exhale excuses.
incapable of solving this innate algebraic problem
you will go on to switch out variables
at fifteen you will love again
new lover, same smile, sophomore charm
same heart brake,
that drives your mother to exhaustion with me
at sixteen you will be licensed like her
stay parked next to boys who curb your enthusiasm,
ignoring their smile.
at seventeen one young gun shooting for the stars attempting to impress you

his smile a cacophonous echo created from crashing into your mother’s arms
her voice whispering the barks
she’s walked dogs before
i apologize now,
knowing false prince charmings will puzzle you
because i have been that jigsaw crowned with the same jewels

my princess
never lose your fairytale ending
lost teddy bears easily replace them but not because you need someone to comfort you,
i will be there.
dressing you up in the finest fabric
so you when you remove your clothes
……and i know you will
and i don’t want any of the details;
it won’t be for validation.
scraped knees from falling for smiles that aren’t worth the wrinkle in your dimple
bandage them with my open arms.

leave them tied to pony tails and cartoons
let nothing distract you.
my princess
i apologize now,
because i know,
i will be far from the perfect man but I pinky promise to be a great father

Sincerely yours,

Malcolm London


This poem was written by Malcom London, a young Chicago poet, performer and educator.  He is a winner of the 2011 Louder Than A Bomb Youth Poetry Festive and has performed on stages all across the city of Chicago.