I am holding a photograph of my father
and I can hear his soft voice whisper over my shoulders,
an echo of all the things I wish a father would say to a son

Understand that my inner child
suffers from dyslexia,
because I am now a man
and I still do not know the closest word to a father.

I give myself a pat on the back
It is an act of survival
One that prevents me from choking

Other times, I am merely patching up the gaping wound left by His vanishing act

I have questions only my father can answer
Like why he left so soon,
I was just beginning to know you.
Like what was his favorite pastime
I was hoping we could recreate it together
Like what troubled his sleep
What ran marathons in his thoughts
Were they dreams
Were they regrets

I have questions only my father can answer
Like what does it mean to be a man
What hat goes with what attire
What life hack
What wisdom would you offer on forgiving
What advice would you give on loving
because I am terrible at both.

They say boys who never experienced their father’s love for their mother
Do not know how to love or be loved by a woman
But I know love,
because of women like my mother

And the absence of a father is one
I do not allow the presence of my mother.

So here’s to fathers fortunate enough
to figure out that being a father figure is more than being just a father.
Those faithful enough
Those who create tectonic shifts
in the hearts of their loved ones

Fathers who love their daughters
deeply as they loved their mothers
Fathers who teach their sons
to be strong and tender
Fathers who live on the lips of their children
Those who are easy to find

Your place in our hearts is landmarked with love.

I am holding a photograph of my father
and curled around its edges are questions
waiting for an answer.












Photo by Caleb Minear on Unsplash