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Paper Tiger

In Uncategorized on July 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm

My father about two years ago had begun to tell me that I did not how to love. More specific I did not KNOW LOVE. It was in a conversation in which I had initiated by a simple phone call. A ritualistic outreaching that I made occasionally in order to demonstrate possibility by enacting hope towards a relationship with a man who is the only father I have ever had or known. In the months and years preceding this diagnosis of me, most times he did not answer my phone calls, had refused to see me, and returned mail that I had sent him. Reasoning in poetic and philosophical terms as to why he has flavored his rhythmic lifetime neglect of me with seeming disdain. This phone call I had placed to him, was intended to be quiet and smooth, to tell him I love him and hope that the words would find a place within him, stay whole and absorbed. (and in my delusional way to make him love me and treat me as his daughter.)

This comment of me not being able to love was thrust within accusations of my abandoning him, of my simple and impressionable mind, of him declaring soon and imminent death.* This comment poisonous and palatable to a spirit that has been conditioned to accept intimate contempt. The sword of it was precise and stunning. This comment was condemnation that created an amount of ache in me that felt as quiet and colorless as any kind of loneliness. I had not realized that simple words like that could have me convulsing in tears on a long train ride from Harlem to Brooklyn (unable to stay at work that day having to leave, immediately as death).

Being in New York felt like the perfect place to receive such news of the incapacity to love. To be able to cry like an unclaimed child in the acquaintance of strangers was an answer to a lack of comfort I could provide myself. My tears were deep and heaped in lungs that could not fill with air for a deep breath, my face was warmed with the weight of being-ness and shame and consequently I was numb in places that never felt sensation. What I mean by that, is in spaces that were not loved in ways that I (deeply) wanted my father to love me, to an extent that the places disappeared from a lack of acknowledgement, the desire to be known and to be seen in a way that made me feel like I mattered (or maybe even existed, do I exist? Do I disappear if he does not see me? am I here? a ghost, a light a breathe a meaning a name, a seventh child, a black thing, a relation within a context of him?) those spaces found a new depth, a new emptiness to evolve into.

So this story begins in various gardens within me, connecting like stars and seeds and streams and all kinds of natural things. The momentum of nature and growth, neutral of disaster or birth, is here in my heart as I turn thirty and desiring to belong to a specific path, chosen and marked. So spirit has been telling me to return my gaze to a memory, a moment that is really young in me and remembered by me in the vivid taste that childhood is experienced.

I was in my bedroom that I shared with my little sister, knees bent underneath me, angrily and dutifully ripping up my first ever school pictures. When I had received them from my teacher, I had looked at them and had realized I was ugly and therefore needed to destroy them/and/me. Our room had hardwood floors, a big window that faced west and always seemed sensible for jumping out of (for escape or fun or death, all in the same hue) our walls were decorated in crayon, scribbly art of brilliance and freedom, which was already fading. In the ripping and tearing apart of my five year-old miniature two-dimensional selves by my tiny breathing assassin self, I was interrupted by my mother. She walked into the room, and in my memory I am looking at myself from over her shoulder, looking at her look at me, her hair short and African. She is clearly upset and I know I am being naughty but I am unmoveable in clarity of necessariness of action. When she asks me why I am doing that, I tell her sad and disappointed in a fact that I am clear I cannot change, that it is because I am ugly. I also recall at this time that I had begun wearing my mother’s tweed kangol hat to school in order to conceal that my hair was nappy and ugly. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly. Seeing the word ugly lined up like that side by side gives a sense to how that felt like to me.

My dad laid a boat in full sail within a glass bottle, on an ocean that found a stream to a river that my five year-old self was on the bank of looking among rocks to find one that was smooth and fit-able in my hand and only my hand. The glass bottle was set to sail when I was 28, sometime in September during a staff training when I had a job in Harlem working with black angels who were made of only the finest clay and earth. I was in the garden next to the building of this job, talking to him via cell-phone and desperation. His words as usual were concisely disfiguring.

So as always there is beauty in all kinds of pain, or so I believe and have experienced. Not that the beauty heals the pain or the death, but the pain or the death highlight the dimensions and facets of the beauty. (Thank you, Goddess).

I am on the train like I said crying because I feel confirmed anciently and irreversibly, ugly and un-love-able and now according to the judgement of my father newly minted incapable of being able to know love and a miracle takes shape. It comes and sits at the seat that is directly across from my knees and leans in towards me without facing me and speaks to me. She is a woman who is brown and round and beautiful and smooth. I can tell she is named love. She tells me that she understands me, she understands the feeling, the pain. She seems to understand that it is not from a break-up or a death of a loved one or a loss of a job, the reason is not standard or obvious as to why I am losing all my own-able and sense-able shit on the Brooklyn bound A train, leaving Harlem. She recognizes the tears of ache that are ancient and in constant suppressed eruption. She tells me that she knows that sometimes you just cannot hold it in, sometimes it just has to open up and come out. She tells me that I will be okay. Not good (never that) but okay. I wanted to kiss her on the mouth with my snot and tear saturated face for such a favorable diagnosis of my condition. She was another star, when warmth does not come from your supposed sun, another star.

The end. (the beginning.)

* he is not dying, but old and sick and miserable at life. I can never remember the sayings properly or exactly, but I know this one goes something like the chickens come home to roost, or “you made your bed” or falling on your own sword.