On the ground floor of the TATE Modern, – Rochelle

We “oh! … hi”’d and didn’t know whether to shake hands or hug(?),
we shook hands.
Next to you, a ridiculously sharp jawline parading as your boyfriend(?)
waits, nonchalantly, and the space takes us back to that
windowless library room where we met,
where we bonded over the Rwandan genocide,
pan-Africanism and the future of this and that.
I made my way into your thesis
and when summer came you said, “here’s my number”.
We drank assorted tea in the basement of a haven I can’t find again,
lunched over grilled lamb with tahini sauce and
we talked of your time in the West Bank,
I remember how your voice picked up at injustice
and how I knew someday you’d light the world.
Honestly, I struggled to read DuBois, Baldwin or even Angelou
but to me you were a revolution.

Anyway, you introduce the boy with forest coloured eyes,
warm brown skin and cool cool grace and we say hello like men,
I stalk his facebook later and he seems amazing.
And you look happy.

Dads

Athletes and Grammy award winners are
always thanking God, their grannies or their mums
the trinity of effort, for bringing them this far,
and it’s not a competition but dads don’t get enough cred.
 
I know dads who take Mondays off to build treehouses for their daughters,
dads who trade Friday night boxing for after school ballets,
dads who take pay cuts and cancel flights to watch nativity plays,
dads who all of a sudden cannot believe this is their creation,
the best thing they have ever done, the only thing that matters
and their lives go from monochrome to rainbows.
I know dads with slipped discs who still take the risk of piggybacks
dads who give up cigs, trade beers for diapers, drop Subarus for Volvos
dads who cross deserts bare feet so their flock can rest
dads who trade their lungs as life jackets across the Med to make sure
their little ones can have a beginning.
Dads who for a second or more think they’re steel
when they stand in the way of bullets, bombs and falling roofs.
Dads who get up from rubble, flee and rebuild, still strive and provide
because that’s what dads do.
Dads try.
 
My dad is an “I love you” dad
he’s also an “not under my roof” dad
I know many “I’m proud of you” dads
many “I’ll kill you if you touch them” dads
lots of “what do you want for Christmas” dads
all of them are “I don’t know if I’m doing this right” dads.
 
My dad is an “I love you” dad
he’s also an “not under my roof” dad
sometimes, that’s really the same thing.