Literary Magazine

Learned Behavior | Valencia Clement

I learned how to love you around the time I learned to tie my shoes,

When all that should’ve mattered was ice cream flavors & the Power Puff girls

That’s when I first started healing my mom’s broken heart

Pouring love into the cracks life made in her soul

& Wiping the tears my dad let fall from her eyes

Showing her how a woman should be treated

That’s how I learned to love you


On trips to the mall, telling my mom she looked beautiful

On the nights when she fell asleep on the couch and I tucked her in

On the days, she just needed to fuss I practiced patience and I listened

When she was wrong, I reminded her that everyone makes mistakes

& when she needed to hear it, I tried to mean it when I told her I was sorry

That’s how I learned to love


She taught me how to hold on to your heart

How to grip your soul, how to keep it safe from shattering

You never have to feel alone in this world, you have me

& I know I can love you right

Valencia Clement is a Master of Public Policy candidate at Peabody College. She’s a Haitian-American poet and scholar living in Nashville, TN. She’s been writing poetry for fix years and believes creative expression is the intermediary to personal truth. She’s passionate about social justice, service, and educational equity.