Still dark, my baby girl leaps out
the window to greet the rising sun.
I stand below ready to catch her,
but every time she takes off
without fail, her laughter calling
to the orioles, calling
to my shame that had I the choice,
I would have never taught her to fly.
Somewhere there is a man with a gun
who will take pleasure in seeing her
skin against the pure blue sky—
and shooting her down.
My own mother did not flinch
when I first raised my arms
and lifted my feet off the ground,
above her head.
She only said you better hope
bulletproof skin comes with that
gift. Years later I found out it did.
Copyright © 2017 by Gary Jackson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 3, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.