When I Said You're Beautiful

When I said You’re beautiful, you
stared at me without speaking.
Shook your head.
Chewed harder on your gum.
Opened your eyes wide.
Arched your brows.
Stepped back in shock.
Hid behind your shades.
Adjusted your hat.
Glanced away.
Tucked strands of hair behind your ears.
Scratched at your whiskers.
Struck a pose in fun.
Smiled behind your hand.
Beamed a grin.
Laughed as if I’d told a joke.
Gazed at me calmly.
Bit your lip.
Wiped away tears.
Covered your face.
Said You’re calling me beautiful?
       What do you mean?
       Only my mom tells me that.
       I can’t talk about this….
       Precious to hear you say so—sometimes I forget.
       I’m beautiful in my own way.
       It’s one of those things you want to tell yourself 
       but you never fully believe.
       I work on it. Every single day.
       You’ve got to be at peace with yourself.
       You’ve got to know your worth.
       Beauty comes from within.
       Everyone should wake up in the morning 
       and like what they see in the mirror.
       The world needs more of this.
       That’s kind. That’s sweet.
       You just made my day.
       Thank you. Thank you.
       You’re beautiful, too.

Play notes: Last week I watched an hour-long video filmed by Thoraya Maronesy. She'd recorded the reactions of random individuals when she told them simply, “You’re beautiful.” Most of her subjects—an endless parade of ages, colors, and backgrounds—were taken aback by her words. Nearly all of them seemed touched, in different ways. When the video ended, I distilled those beautiful people into this poem.