My Dear Daughter

— from “ Thirty & Ba Mươi ” —

My dear Daughter,
You’re probably sleeping now
without a care in the world
I’m on the late train coming home
My mind hovers weightlessly
with the vibrations on cold steel tracks
Clutching my laptop bag
as if it’s about to fall
I’m going to doze off
and let my soul wander atop
the dark clouds covering a night
Black as a crow in mid flight.

I wish I was with you now
To read you your bedtime stories
To kiss you good night
To tell you: “sleep tight”
But once again time is never right
and The Schedule is never in my favor.

Being the “professional” in a startup world,
pushing last hopes of entrepreneurial youth
It sounds obtuse
now that I think about it
And the more I think about it,
my heart drums sound of regrets
I become upset
I remember the last time I was late
I felt bad
the last time I had this conversation in my head
I beat my chest
Not to swear that it was the last time
but to feel helpless another time,
I was ready to be swept away
by forces larger than me:
responsibilities, accountability, social anxieties
or the fear that I can’t be extraordinary
as I was raised to believe.

How can I explain to you
The Gods and Angels had clipped Daddy’s wings
So now he’s plowing the Earth,
Knee-deep in mud
Iron chains weighing him down with …things
You’re the only cool shade in the hottest of days
For a weary soul
that your Mother saved many years ago.

My dear Daughter,
I still remember the day you were born
Tiny, red and crying,
eighteen point twenty five inches
seven pounds of love
I remember holding you
the heavenly treasure hidden in the Bible,
the most precious gift
that God had graced us
I held you skin-to-skin
and felt the burning heat,
the connection a father would have with his child
I remember when you first smiled,
it was gentle and mild.

As I held you close on our daily walks
I still remember that I didn’t want to go back to work
after a quick two weeks away
I even started a company
so we could control Time
to be with each other every day
But reality and practicality
are the heaviest anchors to hold down a man’s fate.

Daddy’s a problem solver,
a programmer, a developer, a contractor,
a money-maker or …whatever
But when 10PM,
and then 2AM come about
The office is empty with no one around
The only sound left is the shrieking wind outside the window
peering in
as Daddy frantically searches for his soul.

Standing,
hammering away on a keyboard with codes,
solving, creating, believing
that this is the great sacrifice I must make,
the choice I took upon myself
for the betterment of the family,
for you,
but I know that’s not entirely true
A little or a lot, it’s for me
This addiction or obsession I seem to have with work
makes me feel uneasy and un-free
But like mayflies rushing toward the lights,
I continue to see:
a brighter tomorrow with promises with risks paid off,
to have is better than to have not.

I have to believe that this is worth it
or that it makes sense just a little bit
Why else would someone go as far as betting Time against Time
or to gamble sweat and labor
for electronic transfers Time, again, Time?
I wish I can show you a vision,
a living situation
that doesn’t begin at 9AM
and ends as late as a salary requires.

A quiet morning, when the world still fast asleep,
the grass still weeps
with droplets of dew covering every pore
as it longs for the vagabond wind
that swayed it the night before.

There you would be,
tiny in a meadow full of yellow daisies
with your paintbrushes, calling out to me
There I would carry,
the art supplies from our farm nearby in one hand
lunches that Mommy made for us in the other.

We would have the whole day that wasn’t on a calendar,
Just a day, an ordinary day like many others
But we would own it
All of it You, me, Mommy,
and how many other siblings you’d have by then,
our whole family.

Must we spend Time to buy Time,
Time, again, Time
sell freedom just to buy freedom?
I know, that life is a series of choices
waiting for consequences to come.

So wait a little, Baby
Daddy will be home soon
Even though you’d be sleeping peacefully
like the moon
I’ll just attend to tasks,
quite mindless and simple
But like ropes thrown into the water
they save me from drowning in guilt.

There I stand,
in the basement
laundering your diapers one by one,
and with every scrub I am renewed again
With every scrub I am home again
Home with you, with Mommy
and forever the father I needed to be.

My dear Daughter,
Wait for me.

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