Acclaimed poet and performing artist Roger Bonair-Agard is the first guest to be featured in Beyond Baby Mama’s Affirming Black Fatherhood Series. Every day this week, as a lead-in to Father’s Day, we’ll be featuring the experiences and insights of unmarried minority fathers. We are proud to present his story.
Having spent three great (albeit tumultuous, on a personal front) years in Chicago, I was about to return to my beloved Brooklyn. Half of my stuff was packed. My moving date was two weeks away. I was scheduled to attend a wedding the following day with an on again/off again lover, whom I had dated fairly consistently when I first moved to Chicago, but now we saw each other every other week or so after having gone through a stretch of time when we had broken up and didn’t get down at all. It seemed like it’d be a chill enough road trip to go with her to her cousin’s wedding – a six-hour jaunt to Cincinnati. But she wanted to talk to me that night, the night before we left – urgently. I couldn’t understand why because we were going to be sitting in a car for six hours the following day. So I meet with her and she drops The News. I’m stunned. She was on the pill. I ask, “What do you want to do?” She says, “Oh, I’m keeping it…”
Three months later I’m having coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in years in a coffee shop at the corner of Franklin and Fulton in what used to be one of the most gully neighborhoods in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. This woman is a brilliant, thoughtful, sensitive, poet with whom I went to college. We’ve enjoyed a parallel poetic literary evolution in the world, even publishing books with the same press. My time in Brooklyn now is temporary as I make plans to return to Chicago in time for the birth and to figure out how and where I will be a father and co-parent. I tell her the story of how the ‘news’ got dropped on me. She says, “You know… I don’t believe a woman ever traps a man, but you ain’t exactly freed a nigga either. That’s that shit I call The Abstracted Trap.” We bust out laughing over our expensive coffees, can’t stop giggling for five minutes before we return to the morning sport of hipster-watching.