my father’s lesson (poem)


Black father
tells daughter
that she is now

daughter is not convinced

she has grown up
in the same
brown skin
she sits in
as she listens
to Black father
tell her
of her newfound Blackness


is something
her child mind
is not yet
able to understand

it jumps to
more familiar things

thinks to how the most evil of villains
are the ones
who dress in black
who shroud themselves
in the perceived terror
of its darkness

it jumps next to

thinks to what it would mean
to start coloring
her family
with the same shade
once reserved
for the nighttime
and the monsters
that come out of it

daughter decides
she does not want
to become

she has yet to realize
that Black father
never gave her a choice

that Black father
was never given a choice

that he stumbled upon
this newfound Blackness
the hard way
how he heard it
in the hollow hallelujahs
that ricocheted
off the empty church pews
that were full
        until he sat down

it took just one year
in this country
for him to learn

that America shrouds
brown bodies
in the perceived terror
of their darkness
that it typecasts them
as the most evil of villains

as both the night
and the monsters
that come out of it

he does not want his daughter
to learn of her own Blackness
in this way

so he tries to tell her of it

she is so young
he knows
she cannot possibly
understand what he means

and for now
he can’t help but see
this unknowing

as a blessing

Copyright © 2015 Mwende ‘FreeQuency’ Katwiwa. Originally published in Becoming / / Black. Available at Reprinted with permission from author.