As a toddler you wordlessly sized me up,
and locked onto my eyes to discern my mood
and how best to work it into your plans,
coolly determining what you chose to reveal.

Yesterday I was flailing to explain a gripe with your dad.
From another floor you offered an explanation:
“It’s not what he said, but how he said it.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Maybe because you’ve been listening
more than speaking,
you understand the tone behind the words.

You’ve chosen a world of words:
articles reporting the news, an advice column,
poems, a stanza for the school hymn;

cabin talks to counsel your campers,
lyrics sung with your a cappella group,
campaign rhetoric for a national election;

words played in scrabble games,
where your strategy always makes you a winner.