Poem: There’s A Hole

By: Kimberly Potter Kendrick

soul

There is a hole in his soul
Existing at birth, crafted by life
Recognizing his difference
Remembering the loud noise, all the commotion, the sirens
Hiding in a closet with his young brothers
Why didn’t he say goodbye?
Why did daddy go away?

Emptiness, neglect of affection
Just a number, he was one of five, eventually one of six
In survival mode, he operated
He dare not utter a contradictory word
Play quietly with the few toys, the warning
He could not yell or laugh, fearing the belt’s appearance

Misbehavior at school
Desperate cries for help unnoticed
Impoverished, he was unaware
Sharing the bedroom were four boys
It had always been that way
He knew no difference
School was difficult, he mixed up letters struggling to learn to read
No one to assist with homework
Falling behind each year, but pushed forward by a broken system

In the street, he played ball with kids just like him
The basketball half flat didn’t stop them from running & jumping
He raced the other boys, he was fast
Something unidentifiable inside pushed him to win

At his new school, a gymnasium
Shiny waxed floors from basket to basket
Bleachers for moms and dads, brothers and sisters, to watch the team in action
A fire lit from within, he hung out every day after school just to hold that leathery ball
Suited his hand, it certainly did
Dribbling in circles around the other boys
His height advantageous
Quickly learning to shoot
Close up, far away, dunking the ball with minimal effort
He imitated layouts without knowing their name
For the first time in his 12 years, self-esteem was rising
He dribbled at his anger, at his confusion, never too tired to play HIS game

Off to the side, the coach had been observing
The coach taught him technique, strategy
Street ball became history
He would sink the sphere into the hoop again and again
His first competitive game
Teammates had new kicks; his own shoes falling apart, a hole in sole he hid
He played with passion, with competitive drive
The coach and the team became his family of sorts
During games, he heard the cheers
As he rested on the bench, he gave the crowd a glance
He hung his head with the realization of her absence
Why was she never there?
Why was he so unimportant?
Was he even loved?
What if his dad was still alive?

Disappointed that his success on the court had no impact on home
The void again widened
Turning from the court to the streets
He stood on the corner with other grown teenagers sipping whiskey from a brown paper bag

He recalls the day she smiled at him, the same day he fell in love
She paid him mind, he tingled inside mistaken lust for love
The news didn’t phase him, soon he would have his own little one
He promised loyalty, pledged his love
Quitting school without a second thought Driven to find a means of taking care his new baby girl
He counted her ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes
He and she and the baby girl created a new family, his family
The loneliness, the constant emptiness disappeared for a while

No father, no one, taught him how to be someone’s partner
Ignorance was not his fault, he did not know how to put another’s needs, wants, and happiness before his own
He knew nothing about sharing his heart
Anger was the expressed emotion
He was a father, but a father he did not know how to be
His whole life had been lived based on fear not love
Never had he experienced unconditional love

Fear entrapped him and dragged him away
No understanding of the promises broken
No comprehension of love of the pain he inflicted
Torn apart was the little family
Torn apart was he

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