“Praise” by Carlos Andrés Gómez

– [Audience member] Carlos. (applause and cheering) (whistles) – Praise. Because my grandmother’s
final days lasted 23 years. (audience laughs) And so we’d rush each time, – [ Audience] Awe. say goodbye & goodbye: “Te quiero mucho, Abuelita. Te adoro.” Because my mother’s
truest mother is grief. who taught her the
slack-jawed abandon of joy. Because my daughter strung together a four-syllable word this afternoon. Actually, the word was “actually” (audience laughs) (claps) Because I say, “I love
you so much,” to my wife mid-fight and we chuckle
sometimes between barbs like we forgot which characters
we were supposed to play. (audience laughs) Because I was given a best
friend for all of six years. And we hand-wrote letters
each week in bright ink Dreamed of whose hair
would give way first. Because the dusk gave me
reprieve from the storm on the way home from daycare today. Because the rain is a stubborn
guard when I’m most tired and Grace refuses that chariot, also known as the rickety stroller that has somehow not yet quit. Because Brent metamorphoses
those ticking minutes everyone else loses sleep over. Shows up an hour early or makes me wait while I re-read the menu I’ve
had memorized for a decade. Because we pretend we
don’t know what we’ll order ask each other. Then, get the chicken
pad thai every damn time. (audience laughs) Because my little sister and brother, were once small enough to
make a home of my curled arm. Because I loathed their
arrival until that moment on the seventh floor of Mount Sinai. Because there are no half-siblings. (audience sighs) Because my body begins to fail
a little more each morning in minute and quiet increments like gradual, gorgeous rust. Because I courted death too long but now dream of my retirement porch. Because my son’s scalp at 76 seconds old. The three weeks he barely
slept for more than 15 minutes. The lunges that shaped
my, that shaped my quads and calmed his sobbing just long enough. Because I have wanted
to be a father as long as I have feared its weight. Because I exhale knowing I cannot fail what I cannot leave. Because no one I know has grown more in three decades than my father. Because right now the oven
is performing its miracles May is teasing us with
its finicky weather, my daughter is coloring
in vibrant looping scrawls that look like cartoon fireworks or the curls wreathing the large eyes she’s borrowed from her mother. And finally, finally I’m home. (audience cheering and applause) (whistles and continued cheers) – Carlos Andrés Gómez

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