For years my tears carried screams muffled by showered water, “I am not my father. I am not him.” I hated my given for years, not changing till i met poetry, spoken words from a friend familiar. Even still, i refuse to use my sur; i see little equity in it, this name more reminder of ancestral tarnish and pain, fatherly shadows, nothing to build upon.
I’ve embraced a duality of innumerable voices bouncing around: pain & joy, happiness & sullen ways, morose visions holding sunshine thoughts. It’s unsettling at times if allowed to creep, spill over and to be soaked up paper towel like.
All i do in life has a center mass, that of filling silos with corn husks, fodder and sustenance for my future offspring. I shall not break the convenant with my 13-year-old self: i am not and will not be him. It’s not out of hate; it’s out of love. I cannot throw away what the DNA coupling of my mother and father bestowed upon me. It’d be a waste. There’s a purpose(s) for each of us, but figuring it out takes time, takes courage, an understanding of why & how. I’m sketching out my plans, coloring by Roman numeral: a mixture of alphabetic & numeric symbols.
Before their questions are uttered, i wanna put a tome of answers on the table: ‘Because’ the title. As a youngster i was given my favorite book, one i know sowed a life-long quest and actions: The Big Book of Tell Me Why. From then it was clear to me all the answers about life were in a book. It prepared me for not talking, to not asking people first, but seeking out the answers myself.
I earned an honorary doctorate via absence, distance learning almost like experiencing sex through abstinence. All my figures of fatherhood were remote: i collected card collectibles of Black men, light & dark skinned athletes, musicians, names unlike mine—slaveowner & African; no grandfathers, one passed two years before my birth, so i believed my middle name was only shared with a long dead King, and a crackhead for an uncle; the other taught me a language i no longer speak, abuses & neglect perpetuated didn’t begin with me. Where was my paternal Northstar?
Vocally uttered words have less meaning to me than printed married characters: empty truths, promises broken bounced along my eardrums when eyes pored over kept secrets. Words heard are mere dust and ashes; words seen are written with blood. All i ask for is never to be lied to; at least not cut deeply. But then, who’s to know how far the knife will plunge?
Never wanting that for my progeny, this vow of a promise to them is unwavering. All my knowledge and experiences shall be at their disposal from jump, syphoned or guzzled, heated up and devoured, or laid on a shelf collecting dust till readiness. I only want there to be a direct line, a number brightly emblazoned & hung above, fluorescent light guiding 24/7.
The Big Book never had unpublished answers: how to deal with a sick parent; why must a teenager be a father figure to a young brother when a parent isn’t dead? Where to go for school? How to tie a tie? What the hell is being a man?
My mother is prone to say a lot these days, “I gave up my life for you and your brother.” She’s just being dramatic as usual, yet, hyperbolic statements and sentiments come from somewhere. I’m already a decade older than the age she had me—8 yrs older than my pops—and i couldn’t, wouldn’t want to imagine having to raise a child right now. Especially not alone.
Life is cyclical, and i want to break mine Staind-like; if not, nothing short of failure is my life. So, for them, all i do is theirs.