Skipping boldly through the mud puddles in your new red shoes
and Sunday dress;
barretts falling askew, soft locks escaping valiantly from their chignon prison.
The lace on your white socks is speckled now with brown;
they will be upset with you, again.
Why don't they understand how the rain water feels so cool on your skin?
You know why the horses gallop straight through the mire,
wild, strident, dashing, crashing,
like a herd of lightning bolts!
Why don't they see your fierce Arabian heart?
You are Daughter.
Fierce is not a word they want you to hold.
Nor Wild, nor Valiant, nor Strident, nor Bold.
It is what they have been, for centuries, told.

They have a place for you, Daughter.
You are molded for It,
not It for you.
And to be kind, they believe it is all for the best;
(it is what they have been, for centuries, told).
Flower of youth, stem of passion, leaves of grass: root of pain.
They do not recognize your father's fortitude
that lives in your soul.
His fervid spirit blazes fire in your eyes;
unheeded, misconstrued;
it does not go with your outfit, my dear.
Your fingers clench with your father's rage
as the world unveils each new cruelty;
your teeth grind with your father's anguish
each time you fall short in your missions;
your heart breaks with your father's torment
to hear the cries of the suffering.

Those that came before had a place for your mother as well.
She was Daughter then, as you are, now.
She has forgotten the days of galloping as a thunderous wild thing,
one with the wind and the earth and the rain,
charging forth and powerful as a cyclone.
She was called down from her fearless climb up the mountain face,
following the steps of those who they had called "noble".
She was chastised for heeding the call to fight for the weak and the afflicted;
dismissed when she shouted for justice;
frowned on when she danced splendidly in the rays of the sun.
The years smooth the mind's sharp edges.
Time rearranges the stories to render them totable burdens:
from leatherbound epics to light paperbacks.
She has forgotten the days before they bound her corset so tightly
it took her breath away.

There will be more rain, dark clouds are gathering above your head now.
Be sure that the rain will be cold, but your skin will welcome it.
There will be tumultuous thunder to sing along with at the top of your voice,
and lightning, resplendent in its fury, coarsing across the sky, to race against,
and driving wind to fly with as it cleanses the gloom from your wings.
And after the storm there will be glorious sun again to warm and bless your weary crown.
There will always be sun again.

You are Daughter.
They love you, there is no doubt, as their very own souls.
Their hearts are not made of iron,
but girded against battles past and future; battles you have not seen.
They carry scars, hidden from your eyes,
buried under layers of armor, some unknown even to themselves.

The world builds cages for Daughters,
gilding the bars to fool women and taunt men.
They will say it is the way things are, as if that is a reason.
(It is what they have been, for centuries, told).
The choice is yours, to walk through the gate,
to let it close behind you, to let it lock you inside.
Or to fight with your father's devotion, your mother's verve,
your own intensity.
They may have built a cage for you,
but if you look closer, you may see that they have built it
from the inside.
Go forth with intent, Daughter,
make your vision clear as the sky after the storm.
Go forth with resolution.
Go forth with love.

M. Black