You can love the ugly duckling
by Katie Stanton
For her strength, for the fights she wins,
For her pain and her weariness,
For her sensitivity,
But never only for her beauty.
You look into her eyes and you know
That she is presenting herself to you
And daring you to refuse,
Daring you to be just like everyone else,
To look at her with the same eyes she looks through
And bring her down with the same breath.
No matter what you say to her, she knows the truth.
There are battlescars on that skin,
Tissue that holds so many tears,
Imperfections like a timeline across her body.
She's waiting for someone to kiss them
Without having to ask why they're there
Or look at them as though they were dark secrets
Instead of rungs on a ladder.
The ugly duckling accepts your compliments
And tucks them away, storing them
For when she'll need them the most.
But she'll go through them eventually
And throw them away like old files
Into the shredder, even the looks you gave her,
The time spent holding her, the gifts,
The fights and the apologies, the first and last.
The ugly duckling never holds on too long
Because she wants to accept change.
She wants to move on and away
From days when looks and compliments were scarce,
And instead build herself a new foundation.
She's scared that the swan she thinks she is
Might just be a nice-looking duck.