and he was a fool. my father David. a mask in drama to that stone statue in Florence

in what he did for love and what other people call it when you have your reputation to think of your image you put out in front of people which is sort of what was toxic between them my father and mother how she never really supported his music how he was disgusted in how she competed with him nonetheless an idle dreamer a boy not being a man supporting his children a boy who needed to grow up and put his guitar away

all artwork is work if you ask me

and it was about at that time my mother started taking Benjy and I to church started reading her Bible giving up her weed habit she’d had since she was thirteen so even better to say she was a good mother just struggling to get by but the fact is after 1955 she hardly worked at all and not even much before that her argument that we needed all her attention and with the cost of having others look after us what would be the point of working anyway always with the promise she’d go back to work once we were older when we didn’t need her as much how it worked after Solomon was born how they got back together though they never remarried kinda like Papa Frenchie and my great-grandmother Bridgette how they raised Solomon like their own son and how David had to go to that woman that white woman Maddie to have his needs met because what did that look like in the eyes of the community to folks Bethany grew up with all her life in a small town like Hemphill how did she justify it as getting righteous and without being rhetorical

the answer simple enough as she said it herself she was just destroying her enemies by making them friends

and that’s why I consider him a fool. my father was a fool. he put himself in a position where my mother said she befriended an enemy while he paid the bills and by common standards he acted and provided as a husband and father but he didn’t get the respect his needs met as a husband and father. but he did get to see us. he was our father. maybe that was enough.

so maybe I’m a fool in calling him a fool

he loved and my mother loved in the way they loved and I have no other example for I saw them fight and I saw them kiss and make up and by 1975 in that summer and the winter to follow I knew too what it was and I can understand what my mother was saying about destroying an enemy by making of them friends. like all words it cuts both ways it’s just that some cuts are deeper and how we can go on hurting someone because of something in the past just like we don’t blink in eye batting down a fly just like we know our suffering well but never really wholly learn another’s suffering and feel it as our own and I say love your enemies

power is not vicious just as it is not pure

and I remember the words my father David said against my mother. sometimes drunk. sometimes sober. and that’s what needed to heal–the words. and words taken long enough sometimes lose their power and sometimes they don’t. just like songs

maybe that’s why my father gave Solomon that guitar the summer of his ninth year maybe remembering when he was nine the flood that year the flood of 1927. what it destroyed. that was forty-eight years ago. and now I am twenty-seven. my father was twenty-seven when he and my mother met when he recorded his first album. and what is this what is all this time compared to what we do not know before and will not know after? what am I in all this mix of past and present dream and imagination some days in winter like some days in summer and I just a sum of climates waiting on a Cracker Jack box to expire Solomon with his magic ring waiting on a fish a sum of what have you what am I if not a problem of impurities a stalemate a draw between dust and desire

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