Think of us, the many of us
cut for fuel, think how we rested
in shallow water when we died
still tied to the way we fell.
Think of the country we then
occupied beneath your passing by,
the uncomplaining ranks of us
in each our solitude. Think how
little murder looks like sacrifice
depending on your point of view.
Think of us still holding onto
some mystery we could not let go
until you came to turn us into
something burning and alive.
In retrospect, I realize that something Mamaw Rennie said to me once–apropos of nothing, of course–was never far from my mind for all the long months I sat with Matu when she was sick and then when she was dying: “woe to the mother who dies before her children have reached the age of appreciation.” Having obsessive and superstitious tendencies of thought, I often wished that Mamaw had not said it and I had not heard it, for it would often just plop onto the racetrack of my mind and zip round and round. How can woe come to a dead person, I would wonder–were we not supposed by our religious teachers to enter into a state free of the sufferings of life? Then I would wonder with the kind of delicious horror with which one wonders such things whether instead we entered a bad-joke afterlife when we died, an afterlife in which all the things we try so hard to evade or recover from in life would settle in permanently, an eternity of woe or loss or psychic injury, the kind of injury, say, that betrayal inflicts when it not only destroys whatever present happiness you have but also eats backwards eradicating a past which has become a lie anyway, but I digress. Continue reading
The year and a half between Molly and me in age had already started to matter when she started school ahead of me, but when she started her period, which I considered an affront to good sense, that age difference became an outright gap. Molly and I had never felt it necessary to know everything about each other, and our difference in age would matter less and less the older we got. But I didn’t know that then—then it seemed as if Molly not only had secrets but was some kind of secret herself. When she talked with me, I felt as if I were receiving hastily written and merely dutiful postcards from a very, very far-off land, and not one that I cared to visit myself either. I felt this as a great loss, and I suffered because of it, although its importance receded like a sharp shift in camera focus a few months before school ended for summer.
One day, Wolf wasn’t waiting for me when I got home from school. Continue reading
When death stopped by the room was ready–
the dark with its luminescent sonar,
the tedium of equipment, its scrawl and bell,
forced breathing like a turn signal still on
when you forgot to turn, sounding like tires
on patchy road, or like an ocean outside
a closed door, the sound of saying taken
from you, the sound you swam beneath already
far away from us, leaving, gone.
Just the week before you joked about more
elegant transmutations, that breathy
speech saying you wished to be encrypted
for retrieval at some better future date or
aged in a barrel and sipped neat cold nights or
milled to feed the trees that shade the porch.
We hope you’ve forgiven us for not acting
on such worthy desires—finding you now
each day in places you didn’t even know,
we’ve happily concluded that you
maneuvered past the end there on your own.
image: The Disappearance Explained: http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/04/17/illustrations-from-a-victorian-book-on-magic-1897/