When did your hands become as soft as petals?
Do you remember your proud callouses?
It must be difficult to be a man
as you define men, to always be on,
to always have your shoulders behind your back.
When I expected Nona Mama to die,
the stroke having had its ugly way with her,
you, oddly home, but stranger even still,
waiting for me in the driveway as I
came home from school with my best friend in tow,
said, Noni died. Just like that. No emotion.
I was relieved till you said, Nono Papa.
The cry soared out of me as if I had
vomited, and my friend seemed to be in shock.
You, taking his reaction the wrong way,
said, Itís okay. It takes a man to cry.
The last time I touched your hand, you had tears
welling in your eyes. I said, Itís okay, Dad.
And for the first time in our lives, it was.