Knock Knock by Daniel Beaty

As a boy I shared a game with my father
Played it every morning ’til I was 3
He would knock knock on my door
And I’d pretend to be asleep
’til he got right next to the bed
Then I would get up and jump into his arms
“Good morning, Papa.”
And my papa he would tell me that he loved me
We shared a game
Knock Knock

Until that day when the knock never came
And my momma takes me on a ride past corn fields
On this never ending highway ’til we reach a place of high
Rusty gates
A confused little boy
I entered the building carried in my mama’s arms
Knock Knock

We reach a room of windows and brown faces
Behind one of the windows sits my father
I jump out of my mama’s arms
And run joyously towards my papa
Only to be confronted by this window
I knock knock trying to break through the glass
Trying to get to my father
I knock knock as my mama pulls me away
Before my papa even says a word

And for years he has never said a word
And so twenty-five years later, I write these words
For the little boy in me who still awaits his papa’s knock

Papa, come home cause I miss you
I miss you waking me up in the morning and telling me you love me
Papa, come home, cause there’s things I don’t know
And I thought maybe you could teach me:
How to shave;
How to dribble a ball;
How to talk to a lady;
How to walk like a man
Papa, come home because I decided a while back
I wanted to be just like you
But I’m forgetting who you are

And twenty-five years later a little boy cries
And so I write these words and try to heal
And try to father myself
And I dream up a father who says the words my father did not

Dear Son

I’m sorry I never came home
For every lesson I failed to teach, hear these words:
Shave in one direction in strong deliberate strokes to avoid irritation

Dribble the page with the brilliance of your ballpoint pen
Walk like a god and your goddess will come to you
No longer will I be there to knock on your door
So you must learn to knock for yourself
Knock knock down doors of racism and poverty that I could not
Knock knock down doors of opportunity
For the lost brilliance of the black men who crowd these cells
Knock knock with diligence for the sake of your children
Knock knock for me for as long as you are free
These prison gates cannot contain my spirit
The best of me still lives in you
Knock knock with the knowledge that you are my son, but you are not my choices
Yes, we are our fathers’ sons and daughters
But we are not their choices
For despite their absences we are still here
Still alive, still breathing
With the power to change this world
One little boy and girl at a time
Knock knock
Who’s there?
We are

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