My daddy’s feet were—
Ivory tusks in Africa,
where the Buffalo watches. And waits,
thick horns like a crown on
his upturned head.
Ever watching, waiting, my daddy stopped—and then—fell proud onto
the pavement, prickled like the gooseflesh of
his great-grandmother, bent over the bed, as some worthless dollar of a man
crowned her with his shame.
my daddy as he falls
into the hell after this one where
none of it hurts any more
than anything else hurts.
They bend and watch his carcass, which has been his carcass now for eight whole minutes—
and they prod his shell—his hard-honed ivory shell—
and say, “he’s gone,” and “no pulse,” and “Fuck!”
The fire in his back was like
the stiff palm of her master after
a difficult day or
the quiet tock of an empty house—
nothing to eat and
a mother who lived in a dream. Not this one where
my daddy’s in a coffin but
it’s closed because
we cannot bear to see
the gooseflesh on his horns
or the blood on his crown;
the master with whips for hands,
counting down the licks until
some other place swallows this one.
I will not look at his calloused hands,
or dry the tears from his white-whiskered cheeks.
I will meet him: somewhere worse than here.
By Tayana T. Martin
Tayana Martin lives in Brooklyn, NY. She is a political organizer and advocate for racial justice. She believes in the power of people of color and the stories they carry with them.