I have no pictures of my father.
He played guitar, was a Creole &
was known for putting his foot into cooking
some blueberry cobbler that everybody in our house
would eat until their stomachs felt
like they were about to burst &
they had to loosen their belts,
go lay down in the bed
or on the floor where my mother had spread pallets
that were made out of quilts that she had pieced together
from hand-me-downs that everybody
in the family had out grown.
He was an insurance man that drove a black car
all over Chicago selling burial policies.
I wish he had taught me to drive.
I wish he had given me
his good wavy black hair
instead of these naps I have on my head
that still hurt when I comb them.
He died when I was nine years-old.
I don't know what he died of—
My mother never told me.
All I know is that he had been missing
& the police found him
wandering around in the street.
When my mother brought him home
he did not remember her,
he did not remember me-
he did remember his guitar.
He would sit in the kitchen at night &
play the blues,
"If it wasn't for bad luck
I wouldn't have no luck at all.
Sometimes life beats you down so low
that all you can do is get on your knees
I would watch him &
could see the sheen of his hair in the dark.
He was giving me his blues to comfort me
the way some people gave Bibles to their children
to help them get them through their hard times.
I guess that's why when things aren't going right
I take out my cassettes & listen to the blues,
"Sometimes life beats you down so low
all you can do is get on your knees
I have no pictures of my father but when I hear
BB King chords, Albert King frets &
Muddy Waters hums I can see him again.