My dad made me paint the garage when I was 13

We were about to move 


And he said we needed to paint the garage

He didn’t explain why 

but he never does


I still feel the burns on my back and shoulders 

even though I was sheltered from 

the sun by that same garage wall that burned me as 

I held that stained roller above my head

how did those scuff marks get that high up?

why did he think this was a good idea?

what was the point of this when I could have been inside?

Not layering paint and pain over that garage wall that did nothing but sit there

it didn’t even catch the buyer’s eyes

and why did he have to leave the door open to the judging eyes of the street?


I wish my dad would explain things to me more

He expects me to just get it 

just get why I can’t focus right 

just get why I look different from the other white kids at school 

just get why I look at my reflection in that way

just get why I need to paint the garage

I get it

He doesn’t go to church

and neither do I

So this is our atonement

Draw out our confessions from the sweat that runs down my body

is the burning on my back God’s hand beating me?



So this is our atonement?

He gets a daughter that doesn’t trust him and

i get to paint the garage


This poem is about: 
My family


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