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Fred Everett Maus: Yellow

It’s October and the leaves die so beautifully.

My father, too, changed color as he died.

He shrank to half his size in the one same bed

in a hospital in Dallas in his last month.

It was not beautiful. Then came the morning

when a nurse phoned us, “Come to the hospital

now, if you want to be here at that time.”

The euphemism irritated me. My mom and I

hurried and arrived just in time to see

my father’s small yellowed body bounce in the air

as a stranger, already cleaning the room,

standing at the head of the bed,

yanked the bottom bedsheet from under him,

collecting the dirty sheet with a composure

that showed her long experience. “Sorry,”

she muttered to us, not looking sorry.

Unforgettable. But why should we expect

this small brown woman, Filipino perhaps

or Latina, to take care of our feelings?

What had we done to take care of her

or people like her—my mother or I, or my father

who taught me to stay away from West Dallas, where

a brown or Black person, he said, would probably

throw a brickbat at a white person’s car?

My mom and I never talked about that moment.

In the days after, we did not weep in each other’s

presence, nor hold each other, nor say much

about our feelings. It was how we had always been.

Copyright 2021 Fred Everett Maus

Fred Everett Maus teaches music at the University of Virginia. He has written on music and narrative, gender and sexuality in relation to discourse about music, popular music, embodiment, music therapy, and other subjects. 

“Thanksgiving” (stock photo)

5 comments on “Fred Everett Maus: Yellow

  1. Fred Maus
    November 30, 2021

    Thanks for reading, Barbara, and for your comments.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Barbara Huntington
    November 30, 2021

    I saw my yellowed father before he died, but I saw the compassionate women who took care of him, and my mother, and my husband before they died. Many hues, perhaps presenting or perhaps remembering their own lost ones.

    Liked by 2 people

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