He took the boy child’s face
between strong hands,
ones rough from painting walls,
pounding fence posts . . .
man hands – nothing soft about them.
“Boy, don’t ever treat women with disrespect,
but never, ever treat your Momma
that way. She carried you,
gave you life, bore those labor pains
so you could live . . .
Listen to your Momma, and your Sister,
so when you grow older
women will love you
because you hear what they say
He didn’t know if he deserved those words –
for they were words that
had never crossed his father’s lips,
and couldn’t be sure he deserved.
Even yet, the boy stored the words
inside his young heart.
And though he made mistakes here and there,
he became a man of shining example.