Writing About My Father, Day 1
My father who is 70 never tells me “I love you.” I used to say it at the end of our phone calls. “I love you” followed by the sharp thud of a heavy silence. I imagined my words falling out of my mouth like a spray of bullets aimed at my father’s right ear. Or like a small stone hurled from my slingshot jaw, my father the dark well that swallows it up. I don’t know if my words landed, but, not being a student of alchemy or geography, of comedy or bad luck, I didn’t realize that the bottom of this well was flooded with the only known water in the world that reflects nothing back, that it is, in fact, a celestial well, home to a black hole and the carcasses of well-meant phrases dead before their time. Or perhaps it’s just that the bottom of this well, the well that it is my father, is a long way down. Longer than the eye can see or the brain can comprehend. Deeper than any magic spell can reach, or any daughter. My words are falling still. Hundreds, or maybe tens (I can’t remember when I learned not to say it) are tumbling down and down, sometimes I-love-you, sometimes you-I-love, sometimes I-love, the “you” lost somewhere between 1999 and 2006, tumbling like a pantoum or a rock slide or that waterfall near where my cousins live in Trinidad. Maybe my father still hasn’t heard me. And when he does, if the words still mean the same (already the “I” has shed several skins, the “you” is dying more quickly than he used to of cancer, of diabetes, of lack), I hope I’m not listening with the ear that doesn’t work as well after years of concerts spend right up against the stage’s lip, embosomed by the speakers. I hope the language hasn’t changed so much that the word sounds familiar but I don’t quite recognize it.