I was so grateful and so humbled when I received an invitation to the event titled, “Inspired by the Past, A Tribute to Our Future.” The affair was held at the Westside All Wars Memorial Building, formerly known as the Soldier’s Home. When I was a child, the Soldier’s Home was an aging building where I went for summer day camp. Even though the building was recently renovated, so much felt familiar to me when I walked in. I could still hear children running and screaming across the floor and see counselors in their green t-shirts rounding us up and making us sit against the wall. As my husband and I walked through the building, I squeezed his hand saying things like, “The bathrooms are still back there” and “This is where I got my concussion.” Every section of the new building held old memories.
City of Atlantic City’s Black History Program 2/23/12
I was so happy to see people I had not seen in years. Childhood friends, family, and former teachers were there. At moments I could not speak, so overwhelmed by their support. Oh, and the program was wonderful! Dancers, actors, and singers entertained the audience. The performances were filled with passion, and I felt so blessed to be a contributor. I read the poem below that I wrote a few years after my father’s death.
The Seed is Watered
Pop, I have studied men
on the street of your generation
to recreate your smile
and admire that 70s bop,
although I knew it was
a feigned coolness
in a world that didn’t care
if you walked upright or not
because it was determined
to stop the new seed anyhow
or bend you like putty
one way or another
until your manhood, your family,
and your race could not be revived.
For this, I have cried
too often for your shortened life.
Pop, I have heard your voice
in the tone of anointed pastors
and thought, that’s how my dad
would have said that, if
he had said that, if
he had broken free…
if he had made the choice, if
he had continued to live,
if he could only see if.
Pop, I have unearthed you 1,000 times
and birthed you from Mary’s womb,
given you power, prosperity, peace,
and divine wisdom–I saw
possibilities in you.
I reconstructed you
on the faces of distinguished men
and finally in the eyes of
your grandson who reflects
your charm and intellignece
in the absence of
just everything you wished to be-
plus male poetry walking straight
in God’s destiny
breeding generations of saved men.
The world will not win.
The Seed is Watered is my favorite poem to read aloud. This is the first time anyone has ever seen it in print. The audience was very quiet as I read. Afterwards I sat down and watched the remainder of the show until it was my turn to speak again. I thanked them for honoring me, and I explained that one does not succeed alone. I pointed out my husband who was standing at the back of the room manning my book table. I told them we had been happily married and devoted to each other for almost 25 years, and they applauded more loudly for that than they did for my poem. lol Next I talked about my mother. She stood up and waved. Her expression reminded me of how proud she was when I graduated from high school. I remember hearing her scream over all the other voices in the crowd and seeing her strong arm wave hard through the air. Oh my goodness, I still tear up just thinking about it. She was so proud watching me get my plaque that evening. When I talked about what a wonderful mother she has been, I got choked up because I truly value the close relationship I have with her.
My Mother and I at the Black History Program 2/23/2012
Thank you so much Jaymi and Dawn for being so supportive!!!
Tanya, thank you for always being there!
Visit Tanya’s blog http://lexawrites.com/
Thank you for your love and support, Atlantic City, New Jersey!!!!!!!
Thank you for welcoming me home : )