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fatherhood, poets and writers, Series

Installation #2 (Fatherhood Series)


The tools in his truck rattle when we go over the slightest bumps. Dad and I might be cruising some street in D.C., Maryland, or Virginia. We might be on our way to a service call or on our way back from meeting a potential client. Dad’s a self-employed master electrician/electrical contractor. He’s 6-foot-1 and might be considered athletic if it wasn’t for his paunch. His hands are rough and strong from the nature of his work. I once watched him lift a hammer, like Thor, to drive a six-foot metal spike into the earth. This was after he’d upgraded the electrical service of a house, and was splicing the ground wire to the spike.

At 6-foot-2, I fall short of such a man, who believes a man’s pride is his hard work. And because of it, this man from Trinidad and Tobago made a life for his wife and three kids in the U.S., where he emigrated to when he was 20 years old. Because of hard work, he was the foreman on a job at the U.S. Embassy in Russia. Hard work and its rewards kept his family fed and off the streets. A way he put it once was no man’s hands have time for foolishness. So you can imagine how he regarded my aspirations of wanting to be a writer. Though he supported them financially, dad mistook those aspirations for passing fads. And when they weren’t, the unprofitable writer’s life only affirmed his suggestion that I pick up a “real” craft.

So now I’m riding along with dad as a helper, after being laid off as a staff writer for a newspaper. At 29 and still living with my parents, how do I measure up to a man — who, at 28 — had a successful business, was a homeowner, married (now going on 34 years), and a father? One day, while on the road, he asked if I was still writing. At the time, I didn’t know he’d nearly read every article I wrote. Or that he rode around with several copies of the paper in his truck to pass out to his friends and customers. When I tell him I couldn’t stop if I wanted to, I remember the poem I wrote for his 50th birthday; how he had it neatly folded in the top draw of his nightstand, next to his gold watch and expensive cufflinks.

Alan King is an award-winning poet and a writer residing in the DC Metro area.

About Abdul Ali

I'm a fellow at American University studying creative nonfiction and poetry. I write across a few genres but it's all brought together by larger questions about culture.


One thought on “Installation #2 (Fatherhood Series)

  1. This is a beautiful reflection by Alan King. It’s so interesting how we relate to our fathers and yearn for their approval. It’s no surprise your poem is right there by his cufflinks or that he keeps copies of your writing in his truck. What a great image.

    Posted by Joseph Ross | May 23, 2010, 10:51 AM

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