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Papa

Poetry & Prose | April 11, 2016

papa
you didn’t remember me the
past few years
i was a ghost in your mind
a shadow of the girl i used to be

papa
you remember the war
you remember sitting in your shame
as you read the signs that reduced you
that told you that you were less than
you were a king
raised to be an oak tree
strong and proud
and then the batons came
and then the rocks came
and then the flames came
so you left your home
sweet sticky Georgia
to find a land where your daughter
could be black and
not be on the endangered species list

papa
you didn’t remember me but
you remembered the anger
you were not an angry man but
when the white men spit on your
daughter
black and beautiful
you spit back at them
how dare they defile a growing queen

papa
i wish you remembered
i wish they hadn’t broken your mind
i wish they hadn’t made your hands
shake
feet shake
legs shake
temple shake
you could not rebuild it in three days
like the messiah you loved so much
i wish your mind wasn’t a clock
wasn’t a tidal wave that kept spinning
the same thoughts
i wish they hadn’t burned your oak
tree armor
to the ground
the same way they burned your home

papa
i miss you
your blackberry skin felt like home
your crooked smile still does
but only in the pictures now

you told me i was your favorite
chocolate shop
sweet and brown
back then i hid my face in my hands

but papa
now
i wish i could turn my face up to you
and wrap my arms around your scent
cooking greens and apple pie and
promises i wish i could keep

papa
your voice is far away now
i am still caramels and chocolates
but i wish you could have seen me
grow into
steel and iron

i can still remember every wrinkle in
your forehead
the veins in your hands
the depth of your laugh
your spine, strong
even after years of wear, decades of war

papa
when they put you in the ground
i could not cry
i had to save all of the salt
in my body
so that i could remain the sea
salt caramels you so loved
i didn’t want to fade away
and become a ghost like you had
become
i wanted to keep every part of me that
you loved intact so that
one day you would be able to recognize me
as an oak tree
salt and iron
glorious melanin
a queen

you always talked to me about how
energy cannot be created nor
destroyed.
when i walk into the sea, that is where
your energy is most potent. That is
where i feel
most at home