I Had Nothing to Atone For

There were Black men all over

the Mall in Washington DC that day, praying, bonding

laughing, crying,

Strangers coming together in unison

for their race, their families, and

themselves

 

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

came through

 

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 literature,

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

about myself.

 

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

for him

 

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

to see:

 

I apologize,

Dad,

for breaking your heart.

 

I thought

I had nothing to atone for…

 

Author: smithaw50

I live in NJ. Concentrating now on a getting a full time writing career started. Glad you could be with me on the journey. Ready? Here we go...

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