There were Black men all over
the Mall in Washington DC that day, praying, bonding
Strangers coming together in unison
for their race, their families, and
The phone rang, and I heard the voice
of my father, with an undercurrent of
excitement in it.
“Do you want to go?” he finally asked.
“He said it was a day of atonement, and I have nothing
to atone for; I married the mother of the my children, and
my kids see me every day.”
My self-righteousness came through,
My judgmental attitude against
my brothers who weren’t doing what I was doing
We didn’t go.
And after it was over,
I began to think about all
the love and knowledge
my father imparted to me
I thought about his contribution
to my love of art and music
and racial pride.
I never got the chance to apologize.
He’d grown up in a different
time, and saw himself circumscribed
by others as a threat because of his
keen and vast intelligence,
And I thought: What would it have cost
me to see his heart soar, to see the
Pride of his people in his eyes, to hear
the wisdom of other elders who were
there that day?
What young man could I have ministered
to about the rewards of being a
family man, an involved father?
I called myself a teacher, and on that day
no one learned from me, and I learned nothing
I called myself an artist, and on that day I
there was no input of experience to relay
in words or music
There are no pictures of me and my father
on that day
because I was a self-righteous hypocrite
who only thought of myself,
and not of my dad
I know he forgave me,
but I should have done that
I most likely would have found
it was for both of us.
I didn’t get the chance to say it then,
but I will say it now, in words,
for posterity, for all who read
for breaking your heart.
I had nothing to atone for…