My dad wasn’t always in my life,
but when he was,
he was, to me,
the most interesting man in the world…
in my world
-a man whose intellect I admired,
and whose words became
the mirror where I wanted to see myself.
I wanted to be
but I also wanted to be
one of his poems…
the flesh and blood of his pride and joy.
I wanted him to enjoy
having me as a daughter.
I wanted to be “daddy’s little girl”
and I wanted him to be
the “perfect dad.”
Don’t we all kids dream of that?
Don’t we all wish we had a perfect dad?
But that is a fantasy that dissolves
when we realize nobody’s perfect
-not even our parents who we trust with our lives,
or any of the people we idolized
in our youth.
And it should have hurt my feelings.
It should have broken my heart
when he came in one day
and picked up my sisters one by one
escorting them to the living room
where his friends gathered.
He was introducing his daughters
and he did not
because having a child with polio
was such a pity,
was in the mood to brag.
I should have gotten angry with him.
I should have.
I think maybe I projected the anger
toward my mom
who came in with hurt in her eyes
and carried me to the living room
loudly announcing me as their oldest daughter.
Her trembling voice tried to project pride,
and, I guess, that
is what infuriated me.
Her words felt like a lie
I preferred to believe
that my father’s invisible love
was a way of protecting me.
It was easier to believe that than to think
he was ashamed of me
and that I was never his princess
although he called me that.
I loved my dad.
I always have,
and always will.
But I know
his actions were
about protecting himself
instead of protecting
I don’t talk to my dad much.
I know one day I’ll regret it.
I know one day he’ll be gone
and I’ll be left with all my words
hanging with a question mark
at the end of every memory.
Sometimes I think
about reaching out to my dad.
I want the indigenous roots of his words
to get tangled with mine
in a father/daughter dance
where our poems become
testimonials of forgiveness,
affirmations of eternal love
the way daughters wish our fathers could be
and how we construct them in our minds
in the absence of their love.
I could just pick up the phone
and call my dad,
and maybe one day I will…I think
I’m always afraid to have nothing to say
or end up having a conversation
that will make me regret calling him.
I guess I have become too much like him
in my inability to face some truths.
It’s easier to just caress the spine of his books
and keep inventing him as the dad
I wish he’d been
the same way he invented having two daughters
instead of three.
I said it didn’t hurt…
but I guess it did.
Copyright 2017 by Maria R. Palacios