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“To my Father”
I never knew you as well as I wanted to,
Or maybe, I learned more about myself by observing you.
That I was a shrinking violet pinned against the wall—or perhaps a fly.
You didn’t involve me, because girls don’t get their hands dirty;
But how could I not try… when all I knew was the world of men,
And what they built and how they talked, walked and what they thought when they said nothing.
I grew to know silence better than the chatter of women and their talk of the birds and the bees.
I grew to hear more than I ever wanted to,
More than dropped wrenches and revved engines.
I could hear you caring in the only way you knew how.
How cold and lonely it was, and yet so comforting and deep-seated in its complexity that even the sound of a car engine could make me recall images of your back to me with the hood lifted, smell of gasoline in the air, and the hard concrete below my feet.
The car was kept for 10 years.
The bumpiest car rides a 10-year-old girl could ever have experienced.
Despite the shivers and the roughness of it all, I came out alive.
You always ran late, out of gas, and out of breath an the moments I shared with you in that small space was all you had.
The one thing that drove you mad,
Was the thought that reality without movement would be the end of us all;
That there would never be a better tomorrow, because yesterday was so bad.
Because yesterday was so bad, you didn’t want to look back at it, you couldn’t, for it hurt so much to part from the dreams you had of tomorrow; The events of today went to the vultures, too. That’s why you were never quite here nor there or anywhere with anyone, choosing the clang of coins and the lights of green felt to pretty ladies with ringlets over the plain and mundane.
But despite all this chaos, I was always there. And maybe, did you think that I’d wish I was there with you too?
Changing parts, behind the wheel with the headlights on, and the visor down with the smoke of yesterday flown out the window…like transient daydreams I had of you…fading in and out of corners in this sports car, as I had envisioned in my mind many times before—rolling, rolling, rolling down and up the isle of man: freedom from misery and exaltation of your younger self.
That I would be an idea, having never existed—were it not for reality and societies expectations of fatherhood. That being a woman today, I could relate to what never was and what could have been for you.
I myself wasn’t your son but some strange girl you had never seen in your life.