Poetry by Farah Lawal Harris

Posts tagged “father

Happy Birthday, Daddy


over the years,
i’ve had many friends
who grew up without fathers,
seen too many who only knew
the love of their mothers.
in them, i observe a hole that is never filled.

i thank God that i have never known that feeling.

one of my fondest childhood memories
consists of running from the school bus
to hug you who
stood smiling and waiting for me.
even today i am still that little girl,
the one who feels safe in your arms
with my face tickled by your beard.
Daddy,
i thank you for always being there.
in a crazy world,
you are stability.
in my childishness,
you know what i really need.
you inspire me to reach higher–
to run past mediocre
to the finish line of excellence.

i pray for the time when i will reach success
so that i can finally have the chance
to give back a portion
of what you have given me:
long nights with homework,
sincere prayers in the mornings,
large doses of wisdom,
generosity with everything.
your love is priceless–
one that sparkles whenever i call.
your love is a safety net
that always catches me when i fall.
your life is a treasure–
even in this falling economy,
your stock continues to grow
and on this day when you have grown
to becoming a more youthful old,
i honor you.

hallmark cards written by strangers
no longer have the power to say
that which i wish to tell you
on special days such as this.
even my own words seem inadequate
when it comes time to express
how much you mean to me.
so here is my attempt to say it in my own way:

for loving me,
i thank God for your birthday.
for raising me,
i thank God for your birthday.
for taking care of Mommy,
i thank God for your birthday
and because you’re my Daddy,
i thank God for your birthday.

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The Miracle of Inspiration


have you ever been so inspired that your body goes into shock?
like regular thought becomes as difficult as
a mandatory marathon to run right after
stuffing your face at Mickey D’s
and regardless of how hard you lift and drop your feet to
move miles away from the inspiration,
it chases you and reminds you to breathe
in and out the fresh air of new ideas.
ideas are like sewing machines,
systematically stitching together
the ripped up pieces of my life.
it’s simple–
that break-up was a zipper and
that trauma was a button and
graduating from college was a French seam,
a rare kind of luxuruy.

after receiving the aforementioned inspiration,
i came home to find that my diploma arrived that day–
evidence that after 6 years of undergrad,
i finally did graduate.
the diploma sat in a slim cylindirical cardboard cage
tightly locked by metal on both sides like a jail cell,
showing me that the things worth fighting for
are often attained by busting through doors.
my father pried at this almost impossible-to-open container
with a knife barely able to contain
his excitement
to witness firsthand the evidence
of his oldest daughter’s accomplishment.
he noted that he was more anxious than me
and worked carefully,
cutting around the metal circle on what he guessed was the up-side.
when he finally gets it open, he slides
the shiny thick piece of paper rolled up like a poster out
and begins to read each Old English font typed word out
loud.
his eyes tear up when he gets to the name
that he gave me almost 24 years before:
Farah Lolade Lawal,
which literally means
“Joy” “Wealth has come” “The first”
and i stop being stuck on my earlier inspiration.
then i realize that i am his inspiration
and that i am living out dreams he never could.
i too get excited about the piece of paper that was paid for
by thousands of dollars, tears and sleepless nights.
so reading in unison with my Daddy like we did when i was 5,
i begin to appreciate every letter, word, phrase and signature
and i vow on this night
to continue to reach for greatness,
to not only be inspired by others but
to be inspiration.