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clothes on a line wind

The day of the harvest we were told you died. With bent backs and bare hands, brown men picked Arabica coffee beans and chewed its fruit. Young wives hung sheets like sails on thin lines of twine.

Our father has died.

That day the sunrise was no different from the one before it. Trees stood stock-still in the yellow morning and though the room had all I ever loved and most all I needed, it was depleted. I couldn’t breathe while my children soundly slept.

A loss is a painful ripping away. An endometrial lining pulled from an unyielding uterus. A light switch turned off, a door firmly closed, a drape sharply drawn. The loss sullies everyone’s hands.

When my father left, he left it all untied. I carried away what I could: a bouquet of words unfurled. My last conversation with my father was my last coherent conversation with my mother. One physical loss became two losses: a tangible one and an emotional one.

Dad, I’m doing the best I can. I see you in my dreams, looking for mom, looking for your things. Mom’s mind is somewhere safe, locked in a repeating loop of a past that excludes you, whom she loved most.

I’m sorry. I miss you. I miss you. I miss you.

The sun has settled behind the monte and the men you once knew, are bent over plates of steaming rice and red beans. The clothes are dry on lines of twine, and soon the women will retrieve them. Mom is far away, sitting among the evergreens, canning tomato sauce and looking forward to a red winter.

I think of you often. I think of you.