Maybe Something

by Tamuira Reid

19260362_10212430801139593_5920259247675657020_nBecause I am quiet. Because you are dying. Because it is night. Because the stars are out. Because fathers die. Because I will miss your hands. Because I will miss Niners games on Sundays. Because we still have more books to read. Because my son doesn’t really know you. Because memories fade. Because memories lie. Because fuck memories. Because cancer. Because cancer is not capitalized. Because Tracy Chapman songs. Because the Bee Gees. Because cassette tapes in your green car with the rotten banana peels on the floor. Because you let me sing. Because you told me I was your favorite even when it wasn’t true. Because I was nine. Because I was sad. Because I was always sad. Because swim meets and tap recitals and science fair projects. Because popcorn in olive oil. Because walks by the ocean. Because you let me put my skates on. Because you didn’t spank us even when she wanted you to. Because Neil Diamond said turn on your heartlight. Because what is heartlight? Because I am your daughter. Because you are so thirsty. Because the doctors say no water. Because fluid in your lungs. Because cancer. Because cancer is not capitalized. Because the trees look different. Because you are in this bed. Because the TV is up all the way and you still can’t hear it. Because you need a hearing aid, Pop. Because they are too much money. Because you’ll just ask your wife what we said later. Because you are an artist. Because you paint. Because your talent is greater than mine. Because you don’t think so. Because we are all perfect to you. Because you convinced us McDonalds was a Scottish food restaurant. Because I will never love any man more. Because I should tell you but won’t. Because cigarettes. Because you quit twenty-five years ago. Because it doesn’t matter. Because you visualize. Because you practice mindfulness. Because you do yoga. Because this makes you sound like a hippie. Because maybe you are a hippie. Because I will sleep too much. Because I will find you there. Because you’ll die. Because we let you.

Because it doesn’t matter. Because cancer. Because cancer isn’t capitalized. Because I’ll watch football without you but it won’t be as fun. Because you’re not arguing with the ref and poking a finger into the television. Because I want to give you the water, Pop. Because do you believe me? Because your eyes. Because I’ll miss your hands. Because your taped-together flip-flops. Because you always wear the ugly shirts we buy you. Because your hair. Because it is big and grey like a cloud. Because no one else to call me sweet thing. Because lungs then liver then kidneys. Because your stomach. Because yellow puffy skin. Because I think of marshmallows. Because there is nothing else to compare it to. Because your laugh that borders on cackle. Because you’re the first one to call on my birthday. Because you have a calendar in your studio with everything important on it. Because you carry around a daily to-do list in your pocket. Because you have four different numbers for me. Because I move around a lot. Because I get anxious. Because life. Because trying not to drink. Because you get this. Because you’ve been there. Because I used to call you drunk and high from the bar and say how I wanted to disappear. Because this is the only time you’d hear from me. Because I was a taker. Because it didn’t matter. Because the sound of my voice, however broken, made your day. Because you read all of my crap poetry. Because you acted like it moved heaven and earth. Because you got excited about the possibility of me being happy. Because hawks overhead. Because telephone poles and the sugar factory fumes. Because I told you it smelled like farts and you agreed. Because empty lots and dirt bikes. Because you let us stay out after dark. Because I see you in my son’s face when the light gets things right. Because you add healthy vegetables to your top ramen. Because my mom eventually forgave you. Because you owed the IRS and it made her look bad. Because you owed back child support. Because you weren’t always on-board. Because you were sad, too. Because you stopped being sad in your forties. Because you divorced my mom and made a new life. Because sobriety. Because you traded it all in for something harder and more real. Because we started over. Because we are still starting over. Because so much for that. Because you drive down to the post office every day at the same time. Because they know you and like you and chat you up whenever you come in. Because they will be shocked when you die. Because you looked so healthy. Because I go to a shrink when I can’t connect the dots anymore, when I spend hours out on the fire escape smoking and talking to myself. Because I become pregnant and then unpregnant. Because my womb goes mute and dark. Because grief is its own type of cancer. Because your flannel shirt on my face. The smell of loose tobacco and deodorant. Because he hurt me, Pop. Because you warned me about guys like him. Because you used to be one. Because you told me about the tumor in May when it wasn’t a big deal yet. When it was maybe something, maybe nothing. When it was a don’t worry, sweet thing. Because you changed the subject back to me. Because you always did that. Because you wanted to know what I was writing and what movies I was watching and I told you about the French film down at the IFC that had me crying for days. Because you compared it to Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Ficiton. Because you compared everything to Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Ficiton. Because Morgan Freeman. Because Tarantino. Because, man. Because I put Ollie on the phone and folded the rest of the laundry. Because I listened to him explain kindergarten politics. Because I knew you couldn’t hear him but pretended to. Because you were smiling on the other end. Because heartlight. Because you let us have a dog even though you were a cat man. Because you always do the dishes for your wife. Because you are a good husband this time. Because Valley Springs. Because the sunsets here. Because windmills and junked cars and brown, forgotten lawns. Because kumquats. Because sprinklers and barbeques and childhood. Because I don’t visit enough. Because I don’t think to. Because the kid. Because busy. Because distance. Because nothing. Because I’ve been planning a middle-daughter comeback. Because nurse and sofa bed and armchair. Because cold coffee in my hand. Because your brother is here with us. Because we are all here. Because you have three daughters. Because I steal a clump of your hair. Because I lose it. Because it is night. Because chemo. Because weakened immune system. Because you hate hospitals. Because there’s a light outside the window. Because this happened too fast. Because you are a good man. Because pulling weeds in your undershirt with the pit stains. Because I brought you water then but can’t now. Because why write about it. Because what if no one cares. Because that would hurt more than losing you. Because wildflowers. Because camping. Because Lake Tahoe and the beach and your aviator sunglasses. Because we both actually hate sand. Because your visits to New York. Because basketball down at the cages on West 4thStreet. Because the spaghetti limone at Frankie’s. Because the newspaper spread over your lap. Because the subway. Because you saw where I worked. Because you were proud. Because you are always proud. Because you heard my first breath and I’ll hear your last. Because this makes us close in some way we have never been. Because just writing that makes my heart twist and sink. Because your eyes will stay open. Because tubes will come out. Because the others will go home then. Because I’ll stay, pull the sheet off your face. Because I’ll say goodbye for the millionth time. Because I’ll put the sheet back. Because you’re a private person. Because you are my father. Because maybe your mother is waiting for you and you are always on time. Because we give the nurses one of your paintings and they hang it above their station. Because this pain has no edges. Because it’s how I know I’m still alive.