Development by Charles K. Carter

It is easy to feel small, my love.

You are not a blue whale calf
that packs on two hundred fifty pounds per day.
You are not a cow growing thirteen times its birth weight in its first year.
German Shepherds grow seventy times their birth weight.

Sometimes our courage grows like a baby kangaroo,
less than a gram at birth, so small in the palm of one’s hand,
but it grows to a modest six pounds by the time it jumps out of the pouch.
And that is only the beginning, my love. It grows bigger yet.

It is easy to feel insignificant, my love.

A cactus only grows up to one inch a year.
Though they are as resilient as you are,
you are not a prickly thing.
You are a sunflower, standing tall.
Some varieties grow up to fourteen feet in one season.
Bamboo grows one hundred thirty feet in a single season
and I hope you grow confidence at an alarming rate,
that people look at you and see your might
but even the mighty oaks and the weeping willows
only grow about four feet each in their first years.
It’s okay to grow slow, my love, as long as you keep growing.

The bald eagles that nest in those mighty oaks
start off at only three-and-a-half-ounces
before reaching a mature fourteen pounds in a matter of weeks.
It’s okay to grow slow, my love, as long as you keep going.
Your development isn’t on a timeline.
Just water your spirits, my love.
Feed your heart, my love, with greens and sunlight and you will grow.

Self-love starts off small but it quickly grows wings.

Charles K. Carter (he/him) is a queer poet from Iowa. He holds an MFA from Lindenwood University. His poems have appeared in several literary journals. He is the author of Read My Lips (David Robert Books, November 2022) and several chapbooks. He can be found on Twitter @CKCpoetry and Instagram @CKCpoetry.