Black History Month

Carly Inghram

My father bends below the Christmas tree
making sure it’s watered.
He has been awake for so long.

He started working at Waffle House
in management when my brother was born
because he needed a real job.
When I was born he had to work holidays.

Business gets him up at five
when he’ll go for the morning run.
He drinks his coffee black without sugars or creams.

My dad likes to keep things scary neat,
is a regular flosser, does not approve
of my disregard for manicures.

On a hike once, he tried to teach
me how to casually smile
at strangers. He is a funny man.

On a Christmas morning, he sits
on the couch beside me. Is crying.
As if we were air. But you have to feel

these things too, I say. He had to identify
my brother’s body. He knows how mangled
limbs appear in the face of his son.

His favorite salad is from a place up the street.
He got a custom made suit in blue, and when
he played college basketball he was still very tall.

I do not think the dream of family is nurturing.
But I am happy that my father only captures
the chipmunks in our yard when he is home,
so they can soon be set free elsewhere.
And when I call, I get a “hi” after a few rings.