I come from the cracked hands of men who used the smoldering ends of blunts to blow shotguns, men who arranged their lives around the mystery of the moon breaking a street corner in half. I come from "Swann Road" written in a child's slanted block letters across a playground fence, the orange globe with black stripes in Bishop's left hand, untethered and rolling to the sideline, a crowd openmouthed, waiting to see the end of the sweetest crossover in a Virginia state pen. I come from Friday night's humid and musty air, Junk Yard Band cranking in a stolen Bonneville, a tilted bottle of Wild Irish Rose against my lips and King Hedley's secret written in the lines of my palm. I come from beneath a cloud of white smoke, a lit pipe and the way glass heats rocks into a piece of heaven, from the weight of nothing in my palm, a bullet in an unfired snub-nosed revolver. And every day the small muscles in my finger threaten to pull a trigger, slight and curved like my woman's eyelashes.
The things that abandon you get remembered different.
As precise as the English language can be, with words
like penultimate and perseverate, there is not a combination
of sounds that describe only that leaving. Once,
drinking & smoking with buddies, a friend asked if
I’d longed for a father. Had he said wanted, I would have
dismissed him in the way that youngins dismiss it all:
a shrug, sarcasm, a jab to the stomach, laughter.
But he said longing. & in a different place, I might
have wept. Said, once, my father lived with us & then he
didn’t & it fucked me up so much I never thought about
his leaving until I held my own son in my arms & only
now speak on it. A man who drank Boone’s Farm & Mad
Dog like water once told me & some friends that there is no
word for father where he comes from, not like we know it.
There, the word father is the same as the word for listen.
The blunts we passed around let us forget our
tongues. Not that much though. But what if the old
head knew something? & if you have no father, you can’t
hear straight. Years later, another friend wondered why
I named my son after my father. You know, that’s a thing
turn your life to a prayer that no dead man gonna answer.