My Father Teaches Me to Dream by Jan Beatty
Happy Father’s Day, Papa. I don’t say it often, and I know I can’t say it still, now, today, but: I love you.
I am deathly afraid of never being able to say that to you in person, and often, as long as I live, as long as you live. You never got the chance to do that with Lolo, and I still can’t get the image out of my head, the one of you bent over in pain, bent over Lolo‘s body when he passed, a river of tears between you and him, an eternity before you can meet again. Words were meaningless that afternoon, and it hurt to think of all the days when it could have mattered.
Now you are in your room, probably thinking about your father, and I am in mine, thinking of you. We are a family so tight-lipped, I don’t know how to undo it. I don’t know how to unravel my affection, and it scares me.
Please know that each night I come to your room to help you put your socks on, or when I hit you on your arm when you tease me and make me laugh, or when I get you sugar for your coffee, or when I talk to you about the news during breakfast, or when I race with my sisters to the car so I can get the passenger seat next to you, I am telling you of my love, and how I’ll never leave, and how you are the first man in my life, and the one who’ll always have my heart.
My Father Teaches Me to Dream
You want to know what work is?
I’ll tell you what work is:
Work is work.
You get up. You get on the bus.
You don’t look from side to side.
You keep your eyes straight ahead.
That way nobody bothers you—see?
You get off the bus. You work all day.
You get back on the bus at night. Same thing.
You go to sleep. You get up.
You do the same thing again.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
There’s no handouts in this life.
All this other stuff you’re looking for—
it ain’t there.
Work is work.
This is from Boneshaker by Jan Beatty, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000.
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