Say What You Mean

“I like you,” she says

“You are a very good girl. You are my friend.”

I can only smile and nod my head,

Not knowing quite what to say.

She continues,

“I have something on my mind

I want to tell you, but I do not have the words.”

I tell her it’s alright,

What I don’t say is that I wouldn’t expect her to,

Because she speaks Amharic

I also tell her she has learned English quickly,

What I don’t tell her is how beautiful she makes it sound,

With her long “oo’s”, soft “r’s” and “t’s”, hardly there “h’s”, and complete sincerity

She smiles at me

And for the first time explains how hard it has been, though not directly

She just wishes to speak as well as me

I can only imagine how frustrating it would be

To not be able to say what you mean

“I like you a lot,” she says

I don’t know what to say except,

 “I like you too,” but I say it with all of me


‘Say what you mean and mean what you say’

Except we’re afraid to be misinterpreted some way

With words gaining double meaning

And as common gestures become demeaning


“I’m so sorry,” I said to him, “I’m so so so sorry.”

Embarrassed, and trying to fill the silence

I babble

“I shouldn’t have said what I said”

Thoughts crowd the tempest in my head

All of them are broken

All of them I leave unspoken

“I hope you’re not angry at me,

I understand why you would be”

I stammer on awkwardly

Till he reassuringly said to me, “It’s alright what you did,

We all say something stupid”

He looked back, and away from me, and I knew

I would never be able to take all my words back


‘Say what you mean and mean what you say’

Seems all but forgotten today

With words being thrown around carelessly

And things being spoken silently


“You’re funny,” she says to me

And laughs all the more

And laughs beautifully

For once again I forgot


And for the life of me I wish I could remember

“You’re funny,” she says, somewhat brokenly,

And I laugh as I realize the joke is on me

She has cerebral palsy, so her body can’t do things as quickly

I would try to finish what she was trying to say

But my words only got in the way

One of the things she taught most to me

Was to listen ever so patiently

She talked about so many things,

But I’ll never forget what she said that day

And the one thing I wish to say

That I hope she’ll never forget one day:

“Thank you. You’re so lovely and full of laughter

Thank you for being such a good friend to me”


Maybe we all should learn

From the girl who speaks Amharic

And the girl who has cerebral palsy

To say what we mean and mean what we say

To speak eternity


There might not be another chance another day


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