Archeologist by Derick Ebert Baltimore Youth Poet Laureate

My father says to me
“Derick,
why are you into poetry,
why not be into something
more exciting,
something interesting,
something that will bring in the money
and then the honeys
why not
have an interest
in –

Archaeology.
Imagine,
looking for something that may
or may not exist
while you slave in the hot sun –
now boy
does that not sound fun?

My father is white
and I want to give him a look
that makes him question
whether he should have used slave
and hot sun
in the same sentence to his bi-racial child.
But instead I fold my mouth into a smile and tell him
“I am an archaeologist, I just never leave my room”
See, in there I find bits and pieces of things that match what I am missing.
Dad poetry is where I unearthed remains of myself that you never bothered looking for.
An even though I come from you, it is like we speak two different languages —
your love seems encrypted.

No wonder my hieroglyphics smiles
tells stories that get mistranslated
I have been drinking from the lips of denial.

Dad
there are days
When I don’t know who you are
When I feel more comfortable
between fours walls because they have been there
for the duration of my life
from the time I was being conceived, to birth, to even this moment.
I guess you could say, they spend more time with me than you do.

Question:
Is a father figure fact, fiction, or forgettable
An answer alliterated and avoided
Dad you taught me well
with never saying how I feel
“I am proud of you” is something I am learning how to say more often
and on my own.
Because I have never seen your lips attempt to teach me.

See
Father lessons
contain
“here son, this is a bat, it hits the ball”
not
“here son, this is a pen, and it can change who you are”

Ask any male
how often
they have had a
heart to heart with their father,
listen for the saliva being swallowed
to make up for the silence in their answer.

We are taught that sensitivity is our worst nightmare.
That the moment you crack open and spill raw fluids.
Is the moment you become disposable
that there is no kleenex
in the world
to dry the tears of masculinity

When really you are the masked enemy.
and I can relate.

Somewhere
in this chamber of secrets,
we grab our pens, our cigarettes, our bottles,
whatever kills us
and Houdini
the man
who-deemed
themselves
absent

I can’t
say that I am fine with who I am
when I’m not allowed to express who I want to be
because you view sensitivity
as a synonym for femininity
and homosexuality.

How many more boys in America will research how to tie a noose
before getting their own collection of ties?
I
just want to be fine with being who I am.
With telling my brothers I love them
and mean it.
With saying to my Dad
I hide the pain sometimes
and having him embrace me
and mean it.
I don’t want to hear suck it up anymore
when there is no more beer left in the can
and it has been my fifth one
in less than an hour
and I’m only 19.
Going numb is the only way I have learned to deal
with this.

If it takes a poem to say
I enjoy feelings
no matter how cliche
then so be it –
as long as I can believe it.
Dad,
I know you’ve always had dreams
of becoming an archeologist/cop/forest ranger.
Thank you for letting me believe that I can be anything in the world
I think it is time
that
I became more of myself.

When I wrote this
I found another missing piece,
covered in what felt like shame –
it was acceptance.
Something I have been looking for
for a long time.

So
I’m not going to pretend to be a poet.
I told you,
I’m an archaeologist.
I’m just trying to find the pieces
that’ll make me feel whole.

Sofia Snow