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When my Papa passed away
although painful
it wasn’t tragic

His funeral was the most beautiful gathering I had ever been to
Black people
of all shades
came together in celebration of his life
Black people
of all degrees of enslavement
came together in celebration of their own lives
We wore colours
We ate soul food
I sat with snot and tears like candle grease on my face as I filled my tummy
filling the room
with an extra pair of shoes
an extra prayer saying grace
I’m telling you like it is because it feels like it was
just yesterday
just an hour ago
when my father
burst into my bedroom
woke me from an afternoon slumber

sun shining
but no light in him

I distinctly remember how hot-damned-well that sun was shining
beaming
bitterly
as I hurried to pick up a lamp that knocked out the light
from my father’s pretty dark brown eyes
and held him
trembling
like he was child again
trembling like he was small again
in my Silly String arms
sucking air and bellowing back, “He’s gone! My daddy’s gone!”

At the funeral, a youth gospel choir sang “One Glad Morning”
and I always confuse that one line for “One Black Morning”
probably
because
that’s what death means to me:
running out of light to give

Thankfully, my father
still has light to give

He found it on a highway, I believe
where he was beckoned to an honourable memory
of his hero
Sometimes
the signs are designed
to reach us at eye level
and others greet us
6 feet
under sound

Britta B.

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