He exists only in candid photographs emblazoned on my memory
He lives somewhere beyond the sea
But to me, he’s only the image of what never could be
Mom said he used to speak Spanish to me
Used to tell me “No” once and I’d obey
Maybe that’s why I rebelled when he went away
I realized that obedience is not what makes parents stay.
Since I had no father with whom to cuddle up
I cradled King James’s God in my arms like if I could just hold tight enough
I wouldn’t feel so exposed.
I cried rivers of tears
I thought maybe the harder and longer I wept the more likely he was to hear
The churches built on King James’s God
Taught me that suffering is earned
Everyone falls short of the glory and that’s how you get hurt
It’s punishment well deserved
Their correct combination of rituals and words
Taught me that life wouldn’t be so hard
If I learned to tithe under the table to the Man in charge
I learned to work the system
And I was too young then to see
That their salvation system had hoodwinked me
Well-behaved people do not create history.
In fact, there was a man who behaved so badly
He spent all of his 33 years avoiding capture by the authorities.
This man showed us how to forgive
He showed us his way and then asked us to do it better than him.
We have failed at what put Jesus a cut above
It was his boundless capacity for forgiveness and love
We’re so busy pleasing King James’s God by obeying
And providing Caesar with taxes from the store we were saving
That we no longer stop to break bread and commune
We are no longer tuned to the heartbeat of the universe
Sometimes I still miss my daddy
But when I open my mind and heart wide enough
I feel all of the love that he could have ever given me
Because it exists in the very air I breathe