Dear Ugly Duckling
I write to you because you are too familiar.
Do you not find it strange that I’d seen you,
read you a hundred times before,
but never felt the pain that I now feel?
I did not recognize you then,
I was blinded by Hans Christian Andersen’s pen
The simple tale that was meant to teach me a lesson.
My lived experience has made me see
I am much like you
You are much like me
And when I look around in my community
My spirit aches for the countless reflections
Who named you so and why?
Your story made my heart cry
And how long did you have to wait
To belong to a crowd that would not negate
Your very existence?
From whence did your endurance come?
Waiting between the covers three decades and some
Patiently, but sometimes in despair
To find your voice and whisper
“There is something wrong here!”
Seize it, retell it, don’t let it go!
You must know, they must know
that Ugly Ducklings exist
inside the covers of countless texts,
between title and credits on movie screens,
inside the walls of schools, colleges, and universities
silenced, illegitimately named and dying inside.
They wander along the margins their true selves to find,
because no one has yet told them
…they truly are swans.