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The Short Form

“Views of My Father Weeping”

Donald Barthelme

Excerpt

It is someone's father. That much is clear. He is fatherly. The gray in the head. The puff in the face. The droop in the shoulders. The flab on the gut. Tears falling. Tears falling. Tears falling. More tears. It seems that he intends to go father along this salty path. The facts suggest that this is his program, weeping. He has something in mind, more weeping. O lud lud! But why remain? Why watch it? Why tarry? Why not fly? Why subject myself? I could be somewhere else, out in the streets feeling up eleven-year-old girls in their soldier drag, there are thousands, as alike as pennies, and I could be – Why doesn't he stand up, arrange his clothes, dry his face? He's trying to embarrass us. He wants attention. He's trying to make himself interesting. He wants his brow wrapped in cold cloths perhaps, his hands held perahps, his back rubbed, his neck kneaded, his wrists patted, his elbows annointed with rare oils, his toenailes painted with tiny scenes representing God blessing America. I won't do it.

We read it in Sixty Stories.

Originally published in The New Yorker: Dec 6, 1969.