My father wears suits to work.
My mother still helps him match his ties to his shirts
so he always looks presentable – in my eyes, his only real flaw
is not being able to differentiate between black and navy in twilight.
He flavors his morning mocha with a mixture of gospel and binary.
The mochas replaced his coffee because caffeine isn’t good
for his blood pressure. He sees the contradiction here,
but refuses to talk about it. He’s funny like that sometimes.
My father stands 60 feet tall. His hands can span a family,
bring them all together to pretend pumpkin pie
is an appropriate cover-up for bruises,
support his six surviving older siblings on the strength
of his knees; my father repairs homes with his footsteps.
He lays foundations with supplication, builds walls
with his wailing, lays roof with his hands stretching
skyward. My father finds peace in prayer.
I have learned to find peace in the silence that often follows them.
He has learned to be happy that I find any peace at all.
My father used to launch me and my brother across his room
with his legs, carpet-bombing his bed with toddlers over and over.
His legs were missile silos.
This served as target practice for having to re-launch his children
back into the world far too many times. I have yet to hear a complaint.
My father’s voice is a storm when I am desert, bringing thunder and life.
His words fall heavy like the fattest of raindrops;
my cracked skin may take some time to absorb what he offers,
but I store them all in a pool in my belly for when the dry times return.
I know that I never need to go prodigal.
When I was 10 years old, I was being bullied by a neighbor kid.
As he held me by my throat, I yelled out “I rebuke you in Jesus’ name!”
He let me go. Upon telling my father this story,
he affirmed my suspicion that a large angel
had clearly thrown this kid across the yard in my defense.
Years later, while recounting this tale,
he recanted, told me that the boy probably threw himself
off of me because he thought I was crazy.
This was the first time my father unintentionally taught me to question.
My father moves mountains with his mutterings.
But sometimes we are on opposite sides of a canyon
we can’t cross for our shovels.
They don’t work as fast as the backhoes that built it.
When I was a child, my father taught me that my eternal soul is his responsibility.
He said that he would be judged for how he raised me, told me that his father was always watching. He meant God. He called him Abba, which means father in Greek. He said that God became the father he never had.
My father is the reason for my contentment and my restlessness.
He is every poem I’ll ever write,
every demon I will ever battle.
My father is afraid that
I won’t be at his right hand in Heaven.
He also taught me that God is love.
He taught me to love.
My father, I see God in you. You have done your job.