The Year of My Father’s Cancer I Watched 120 Hours of Star Wars

Jade Cho

The nights I lay below your hacking and heavy steps to the bathroom

were full of hyperspace blue. Low thrum of lightsabers and spinning blasters

wielded by space fathers: I imagined you were invincible in beskar and I was

loaf-sized still, slung on your hip, shrieking at the speeder’s dangerous velocity.

All year I played and replayed The Mandalorian

just to hear Din rasp, It’s time to go. Don’t be afraid.

to the child the size of a kitten in his armored hands

my eyes wet as the blast doors close between them.

You never told us it was time. Clung to hope: bile up the throat

until your liver gave out. The toxins ushered you to the other world

before we could script a goodbye, your last words to me mysterious code.

I weep watching Vader’s farewell because I know:

Sometimes we cannot save our fathers.

Instead of tossing flame to the pyre on Endor

we gather on linoleum. Watch the cardboard box through the glass

as it delivers the body that is no longer your body into the furnace’s core.

Father, I forgive you for what you couldn’t say.

There’s a field where you chase me giggling

through the gold-licked grass, and we clash twigs

in battle between a tree’s outstretched arms.

I trace the dark above Earth where you taught me

to find bears and dippers in city-hazed sky

where I know it’s the wink of a falling star

that promises, I’ll see you again.

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