A BLACK WRITERS WORKSPACE POETRY COLLABORATIVE
Prelude by Michelle D. Jackson
On Friday, January 28, 2022, my father died.
During his funeral, as I sat staring at his regal bronze casket covered with an American flag, I noticed a beautiful metal door in the church with a three-circle emblem representing the Holy Trinity. Mesmerized by its design, I began to wonder about the door of eternal life my father had now entered. This door represented the pathway from earth to heaven.
Somewhere in the heavenly clouds was my father, a man in his late eighties who survived poverty as a young boy and blatant racism in the south—a complicated man whose love shined through even in the harshest times. I did not always understand him, but I knew and loved his strength, courage, and unspoken belief in forgiveness.
The door that stood before me represented his path to a final resting place, a course we will all one day endure. It was this door that had the last word on his life. Yet, poetic in how its silence spoke to the numbness of my heart, I knew that once he walked through it, my father would receive his heavenly reward for a life well-lived.
With the help of my friends on the Black Writers Workspace, we crafted separate parts of a story, my story, our story of grief, loss, and the journey from this world to eternal life. Through the beautiful and heartfelt poetic words of writers everywhere, they helped me share my pain, and I am forever grateful. Here’s our collaborative work:
by The Black Writers Workspace
Entering another day without you
Broken but strong
Your laughter a beautiful memory
Lasting a lifetime long
Remembering how you loved me
Rarely spoken but always felt
Remembering your dreams for me
Tackling the world as it’s dealt
My first Valentine
The man who loved me most
The warrior in my mind
when this life’s beyond reproach
The meals we shared
The smiles we gave
The slightest touch of your hand
Your love pierced my little girl heart
Your love is where I stand
You are, and will always be,
the fire in my belly
The fight in my step
The man who made me, me
The guy who accepted his missteps
A daddy indeed
A fearless heart
A complicated soul
The door will never keep you
For your life is still ashore
But the door will let you rest
Share your greatness on high
Remind your earthly family of you
Propel us toward the sky
Sleep, daddy, sleep.
You deserve to rest
You’ll never be forgotten
Your soul is at its best
Entering another day without you,
Consumed with all I’ve lost.
You’ve always taught me to win,
Eventually, I will, but at what cost.
Nothing can prepare us for the sea,
After we pass the door of no return.
Without your covering, who will we be,
Who knows, yet we must learn.
A day at a time is what they say,
When I don’t know what day it is.
With doors closing all around me,
I feel as helpless as a lost little kid.
Even when that door slammed shut,
Inside of me, I still felt your light.
I’ll try to breathe deep to find small bits of peace,
remembering you, day by day & night by night.
On solid foundation
framed in love
hung in place delicately hinged
like the wings of a dove
You’ve Always been wide open to me
But today you are sealed tight
And nothing seems right
As I stand here on the threshold of your memory
My heart flutters to keep pace
Anticipating the turn of the knob
Unopened yet somehow
In the middle of the end
My silent tears give away to sobs
Thro’ it we into life are usher’d
Squalling and kicking lustily
Bringing joy to the hitherto bother’d
And thro’ the door out of life
Lying still and pale and rigidly
After our course of life is run
Leaving sadness and pain behind as we go
Never to return
This is the door of forevermore.
On the other side I’m expected to say good-bye to the first man who loved me.
I’m grateful he got to guide me through this crazy awesome journey.
When I leave the room and that door closes, I will not be the same.
I am not prepared for the heartache, the grief and pain.
So please remind me to think of the good and push away the bad.
Remind me of the times when I wasn’t so sad.
Show me a penny, a red robin or rainbow.
Remind me your energy will always flow.
This way I don’t have to say goodbye, instead I’m reminded
You are by my side.
Now, I can close the door to forevermore.
Some people look at a closed door as an end.
But the door doesn’t just close. It opens too.
On this side of the doorway, I saw you Daddy and knew
I would never see you in the form I was used to.
Laughing, telling jokes and being the life of the party.
But as you stood at the doorway, you knew once you crossed over,
you would have to make your presence known in other ways.
So now, I hear you in my sister’s laughter, I see you in my brother’s face
and I feel you every time I go home to visit family.
The doorway isn’t just the end, it’s a different beginning.
Open. Open. Open. Please door just open
Let me have one last hug or one last glance
Just one small moment
Just one final chance.
I wasn’t ready for you not to be here
Even though I knew it was now your time
My mind says it’s going to be OK
But every part of me knows it’s lying
This door is the only thing between us now
Separating two hearts that should always be together
But as detached as I may feel right now
I know your love and memories shall last forever
I know this door is forever closed
No matter how much I cry
Life will be forever different without you
But with each day, I know I’ll get by
I will live life grateful for the time we did have
Never to forget your life, laughter, or love
Wait for me on the other side of that door
So when it opens, all I hear is, “Welcome”