• Jafei Pollitt

I See Through my Father’s Eyes.

When I look back to memory

And I think of all the landmarks ticked on my timeline.

The moments I found myself running rampage around the backyard,

The moments I found myself belting in the kitchen,

Or falling off of banisters and breaking my arm.

I don’t see the muddied dirt below my feet where my mother tried to grow grass,

Or the out-of-date fridge with family members magnetized to its side,

Or the scraped up, wooden floor where I fell.

I see the little girl. I see the young teenager. I see the woman.

Wanting and wishing and fantasizing about a world

She has no knowledge of.

I don’t see the surroundings where I played, or yelled, or fell.

I see through my father’s eyes.

Through disappointment, through fatigue

Through pride, and through guidance.

When I recite the memories of myself as a little girl;

An eleven-year-old making a racket in the living room,

I don’t recall the concerned gazes of my family,

or the clawed at, leather couch in front of me.

I see me.

I see me through my father’s eyes.

I see myself through the lense of a genius.

I’m dancing and parading about like a soldier

Who doesn’t know the battle she’s going to fight for.

I see through my father’s eyes.

I see him look at the brown, clumped hair on my head,

The persistent push and pull of emotion showing itself fatally on my face.

I see him find his little girl turning into a young woman.

Independent and scared.

And although vacant in his face,

the same emotions are viscerally crowded in his head.

This act of watching your child grow;

A routine you would think tired him

After two already filtered through the system.

But I see a cloud of grief and the unknown impair his thinking.

I remember the glances I caught with him.

Eye to eye.

He saw what was there.

In that little girl.

In that young teenager.

In that woman.

He saw it as clearly as glass being unfogged from the mist

That was there to deceive anyone trying to break it.

When I see myself as a young teenager

I don’t see my sisters grown with their graduation caps on.

I don’t see my mother’s worry start to build on her face.

I don’t see my father decay and rebuild after his heart gave way for the third time now.

I see me. I see a girl who wears clothing unsuited for her and an insecurity that feeds into her storm of anxiety.

I see what my father saw of me.

And although he never said much,

He never mentioned his inquiry,

I could see it. I could feel it. I could give my voice reason with his unspoken words.

As I see myself as a woman

Leaked out into a city I deeply love without his quiet insight

I find myself at a loss, but also with a forged out path.

Because, you see, while my father was watching intently,

His mouth sewn shut,

His hands were hard at work.

Digging into the broken dirt

Making a river that I could flow into.

He was preparing guidance for when he could no longer give it.

For when his eyes wouldn’t meet mine for months.

All the effort from words manifested into his muscles

So he could pick up the jagged shovel and keep working.

And now

As a young woman

Memories still in progression.

I see through my father’s eyes.

I understand why memories I have are in the perspective

Of a man who saw greatness in a little girl who refused to see it herself.

Because now I see it. Now I’ve let it seep into my bones and move me.

I’ve let the crimson red of my being flood into his path.

I see through my father’s eyes.

And now I await for those eyes to become mine.

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