Baltimore Art Rising

Father by Cashe Harris

April 21, 2017
19

ARTWORK BY JAEYEON JUNG

Father
by Cashe Harris

Daddy's girl? Ha! I've never been that.

Father. Dad. Daddy. Padre rather. Nope never had one of those.

Oh its June 19th, Father's Day. How can I celebrate the day of something I don't have?

Year 1 dad’s in prison. Year 2 dad’s in prison, year 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 dad’s. In. prison.

When is he coming home mommy? Do I even have a dad? Oh a letter came.

miss you baby and daddy's coming home soon, I love you it says. Love?

How can a 9-year-old girl love a man she doesn't know. Year 8, year 9,10, and 11 daddy's in prison.

But look at this, May of 2011 daddy's home. He comes and hugs me. I hug but don't feel anything,

Just unfamiliarity. I feel confusion. Who is this man I'm hugging? This isn't my dad. I don't have one.

Well I guess I'll pretend, maybe he'll feel like dad soon.

Year 1, you look just like your dad. She looks just like you, they say. Should I say thank you?

Should I feel proud of being the daughter of a man who didn't love me enough to change his ways and instead went to prison.

So I smile. And pretend. Year 2, I don't like daddy very much. He's not very considerate.

In fact, he's very selfish and biased. I can't get you this, I can't afford that, we can't get that. What can’t we get?

So I pretend to be okay. Again. Year 3, daddy has a girlfriend. She's taking up all his time.

She just came into the picture and I don't even know my dad’s favorite meal, favorite song, not even his favorite color.

She can't eat, no, she says. Daddy doesn't object he just nods. I’m flabbergasted, and I finally feel something.

Not sadness, just anger. He didn't love me. Who was this man that labels himself daddy?

I don't have a daddy. Months go by. Mommy files for child support. He demands a DNA test.

Where did these thoughts come from? His girlfriend bought this along. I feel something, rage.

DNA test results come back. He's not my father. I'm silent. still silent. He leaves. And never looks back.

I realize I don't feel anything. Still haven't felt anything. Month 1, fatherless, month 2, fatherless.

Month 3, you want to meet your father?

I leave. I meet the man who's my father. I see his eyes and instantly feel something. Recognition.

I've seen those eyes before.

In a mirror every day.

Those are my eyes.