How many times has my father

Lain face forward on uneven ground

So I may have a solid surface on which to stand

Swam in roaring waters

So my arms did not Tire

Acted as boat

And life preserver

So I may ride on his back toward my dreams

And still float

If he capsizes

Under the weight of the waves of his sacrifice?

 

I ask him to take a moment to breathe

But he explains

That he is saving the fresh air for me

He uses his lungs

Only to filter out the toxins

So I may inhale without a care

When we reach land

I beg him

To at least cushion his feet

As he carries me over thickets of needles

But he trudges on

Only seeing for me what lies in the distance

A sweeping field

Lush with foliage that has grown from the seeds of his sacrifice

My father

Would use shards of broken glass

Haphazardly pieced together through which to see

So long as he could ensure my vision was 20-20

He has walked miles in worn shoes, bolstered by tattered socks

So he could get to the store to buy me a new pair

Blistered his hands

to keep mine soft

Hardened his face

So that I may smile more

 

At 4 o’clock each morning

When he comes home from another 12 hours manning the barricades

He prays

Not for himself

But for our family.

He prays

That each time he has twisted his spine against harsh currents

to the point of almost snapping

That it straightened our path to becoming stronger

He prays

That the blood, sweat, and tears he sheds

Will mix together into the most beautiful of paints

With which my mother will create masterpieces.

He prays simply that his sacrifices

Will make our family into what his was not:

Whole.

I will work to answer these prayers

Each day that I am buoyed by his selflessness

I will

Swim a little harder

So that I can serve as HIS flotation device

Toward dreams deferred

Run a little faster

So that one day

I can carry him into the field he planted for me so long ago

Because someday, he must understand

That in a world where so many drown

His offerings

Were all that kept us afloat

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