On the Grammar of the Days and These Evenings of a Million Words

These warm sunny afternoons
I remember how my father would sit
on the front porch for minutes, maybe hours,
saying it was a good day to have a sunbath.
It was never about going out to sunbathe,
about going out to do, but going out to have—
sunbath the noun, versus sunbathe the verb,
thing versus action, with the emphasis
on light and moment rather than
the passage of time.
Now whenever I sit in the bright sunlight,
I contemplate not what passes by
or what comes into view then vanishes,
but the beautiful stillness
and splendor of staying in place;
I think of the many things I never want to have,
and then I stop thinking about them.
And as afternoon becomes evening
in that hour when color is a movement
you can almost touch,
I can see my father’s face
like a glowing in the sunset’s early light,
telling a story about the days
one million words long
without ever moving his lips.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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