For my niece Molly
Sometimes, numbers just don’t add up.
For example, when people look at me,
I think they think they’re seeing “one:”
But most of the time,
I am more than one of anything:
I am one student. But, at the same time, I’m also one girl.
I am one girl. And, at the same time, I am one friend.
I am my mom and I am my dad.
I am today and I am yesterday.
So how can I be “one” and more than one at the same time?
It’s like I’m a closet full of pairs of shoes.
Sometimes I’m a pair of cozy, blue Uggs
when I need to feel warm or when a friend needs a hug.
Sometimes I’m a pair of black, low-top Chuck Taylor’s
when I feel relaxed and I’m just hanging out with my friends.
And sometimes I’m a pair of yellow rain boots with red and blue flowers
when everything around me feels stormy and I need to feel stay safe and dry.
Sometimes, when a friend does something I don’t understand,
I have to remember: Don’t criticize someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.
Like the other day at school some friends and I were talking
about heroines in movies and the different shoes they wear,
how in some stories, heroines are shown as only one thing.
Which isn’t like real girls at all.
Think of Snow White’s lovely light yellow slippers with bows—
great shoes for parties with dwarves or waiting around for a kiss from a prince.
But I can’t criticize Snow White.
This is just the way they wrote her story—one pair of shoes.
Or what about Disney’s version of Pocahontas?
She’s even a real person but in the Disney story
she’s seen as a barefoot princess running through the forest
with a raccoon and a humming bird as friends.
In the end though, she made up her own mind
and wrote her own story in a way Snow White couldn’t.
I want to see more heroines who create their own stories.
Heroines who are more than one thing at a time.
Heroines who can wear the yellow slippers and run bare foot.
Heroines who wear heels with a firey dress.
Heroines who wear leather boots and carry a bow and arrow.
Heroines who braid their hair in the morning and have it done formal at night.
Heroines like Katniss Everdeen.
She’s a girl who isn’t afraid to do the right thing.
A girl who isn’t afraid to confront bullies.
A girl who is willing to do anything for a friend.
But me and my friends: we are that girl.
Girls who play basketball and girls who recite poems.
Girls who play music and and girls who play soccer.
Girls who do science and girls who ride bicycles.
I am a girl and I am a friend.
I am a friend and I am a daughter.
I am Snow White and I am Pocahontas. I am Katniss Everdeen.
And I am not the only one.
Poem by Jeffery Oliver. Performed by Molly Feb. 2014.