How My Dad Accidentally Raised a Feminist

The day I was born
he gave me the first name Morgan, sturdy and neutral
“fighter of the sea”
he gave me the middle name Freya, norse goddess of
love, beauty, war, and death
a seeker of thrills and pleasure, who carried herself
with strength and passion in plight
he declared to my mother, “honey, she will be a force to be reckoned with.”

I was three
the bathtub was full of bubbles and brothers and me and
they could pee into the toilet from the tubside, which
I couldn’t do
no one had ever told me I was different from them and I became
he yelled from outside the door, “honey, don’t let your brothers torment you.”

I was five or six
I stood painting at my easel in the garage where he worked and blurted
“I think blue is my favorite color but blue is for boys and pink is for girls,”
to which he responded, “honey,
colors belong to everybody.”

I was ten
we pulled into the driveway after school and I said I’d get the mail and
I did
he watched me walk down to the mailboxes and back and then
he cried in the drivers seat for an hour and muttered “honey, some men like
little girls with ponytails who walk alone to get the mail
a little too much.”

I was fourteen
my body had become something womanly and unfamiliar and
well-hidden under my brother’s hand-me-downs,
my long hair shoveled into a beanie
I walked down the hallway from my bedroom and
he stopped me to say “honey, I don’t care if you like boys or girls or
purple aliens from Mars, as long as they treat you well and
you are happy.”

I was seventeen
a transgender girl had been allowed to become a girl scout and
it made the evening news
and my mom exclaimed “well. that’s. just. great.”
and he countered “honey, who are you to decide how someone is
connected to this earth?”
I silently cheered from the dinner table.

I was twenty
we were used to everyone else holding their breath when we talked because
when we talked it was fiery altercations
this week’s controversial topic: abortion
and he remarked “honey, I’m pro-life because I would never want you
to go through that”
my retort was “I never would- that’s my personal choice but other women
should be able to make that decision for themselves”
“yes, I think so, too”
“then you’re pro-choice”
everyone breathed.

I am twenty-four
my nomex uniform hangs in the open closet,
his name sewn onto my breast pocket
I smell the smoke he used to wear when he got home from work and
we all crawled into his lap
his voice carries over the phone, “honey, I am just
so proud of you.”

my father did not make me from lace and cursive writing and subordination
he made me from untied laces and carving initials into tree trunks and the innate cognizance
that I am anything but collateral
the day I was born
and he said, “honey, you will be a force to be reckoned with”
he was not wrong.