Poem: “For Our Fathers”


My father is born looking white with green eyes

in Pennsylvania & under skies with white stars,
Did anyone ask about the color of your baby?
There is a boast about descending from the Mayflower,
the Pilgrims, Thanksgiving, where the 1st Nation People
bring food so the Europeans will not starve.
No one mentions the thousands of slave ships
crossing the Atlantic as the Middle Passage.
The wealth of European nations
piled up from the rape of Africa.
Did anyone ask if your children are hungry?
My father is born to an angry father
who was preaching a Gospel in a land where the Klan Cross burns.
Most of the Founding Fathers owned slaves,
and Washington bred 12 year old African girls
who could bear many more slaves for him.
Do you see the paradox?
My Grandfather is cruel to his son he thinks
is fathered by a white man.
Does anyone ask about how rapes gave these colors?
My father married my Mother from the free Mississippi River,
a woman whose family yearned to be free of “Colored-White” signs.
Meeting in Ohio they join.
Daddy, I am a time of love when you & Momma embrace.
The steel mills exclude Black men from unions,
you drop your head again
enduring insults to pay our bills,
pouring yourself down a bottle.
On a sober night you recite the 23rd Psalm,
hoping for more for your children
as you flow down the wine trail.
Now you hold me on the front porch,
lifting me so high I can hear your heart beating.
You put out your Camel & point like Frederick Douglass to the stars,
I cannot see the Little Dipper,
I cannot see the Big Dipper
you point to.
Knowing there is something you want me to see,
I search I search I search.
You were born in Pennsylvania where Quakers sneaked runaway Africans
from Southern states & where the Good sheltered our ancestors.
You do not drown in your bottle,
and rise to sing on Sundays.
I remember you and fathers on Father’s Day.
I am a writer now.
I stare & look at the North Star,
the symbol of our search for freedom.

“For Our Fathers” by Carole Gregory copyright June 2017

In photo, the author is shown in front of her father’s St. Peter’s Church. Deacon Cabble Russell Gregory ‘s name is still honored at St Peter’s Baptist church.


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