On Father's Day, a part of me still asks: could someone please, tell me how my father did what he had to do to survive the credits of this Country's black & white movie?
Our family movie has become this gray chromatic prism seen only through the lens
of my tears. Daddy, destiny long ago spoke it's near-perfect English when that dark grim
harvester laid its kiss upon your negroid lips.
Flashback, your funeral: I am staring upon this smallness of your body, and thinking:.
I do not remember you being so small... or your features, this cold, this hallow or hard
and even more rigid than in life.
Daddy, lately, I've been grasping at gravity with these tired legs... I've been pulling at the
living. I keep prying and bullying for memories and stories and poems for the man, I
I promise to sit as attentively as a wide-eyed student and to read the subtext of small-
print, beneath their chins, because this was your history. You see, daddy... I need
to know of the lost years; years that tried souls and broke the spines of colored people.
I need to know of the times when black men were forced to walk without their bones...
I need to know of your dark-skinned isolation; your escapes inside a Friday night's
hooch and especially those juke-joint vacations from a screaming world.
It isn't about my fascination with that era (I'd seen Steppin' Fetchit perform that black,
expected ignorance to comedic terror). No “play it again, Sam!” antics, either... See, I
truly believe, that you, my father, were Bogart's darker, bad-ass brother; a man of silence
and deep complexities... a man of muted colors.
So could someone please, tell me how my father did what he had to do to survive the
credits of this country's black & white movie?
I'm in need of stories, now; stories that give stereo-sense-a-round sound to that silent
howl. I want for stories, dad... stories that add a gush of Technicolor red to your black,
I want photographs of happy to be nappy, so your smile will forever shine like a richly
vivid fresco, tinted by another time. We had our Renaissance, didn't we, daddy?
Somewhere between the front line of our wars and our barracks of indifference... we
were comrades, you and I, father and son... this must signify something!
Ever wonder how we two such disparate souls could argue and clash to the point of
mental exhaustion and still not get along? Now, I do. And we still remain comrades,
you and I, beyond blood, DNA, and beyond kitchen table confrontations... we are
comrades, you and I, scraping at the filthy toenails of Lady Liberty, and breaking off
pieces of a dream.
Daddy, you've forced me to evict the child from this tenement in my head... Now, all I
have are these stories and a need for even more of them... All I have now are these
rainstorms and waterworks, but they succeed in cleaning all the dust from my mirror.
And it's left me, here, wearing your younger face, while staring at our respective jigsaw
realities... It leaves me, here at a point of grace... with no misunderstandings and no
maladies of hatred. I simply stand back, inside my grief, and in my wonder, reflective of
your life-force, which now lies, six feet under.
Happy Father's Day in Heaven, Dad!
copyright © 2015 by L.M. Ross