A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Based on a 150-word poem by Ron Koertge, “Negative Space” is a film by Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter that was nominated for a 2018 Academy Award for Best Animated Short.
My dad taught me to pack: lay out everything. Put back half. Roll things
that roll. Wrinkle-prone things on top of cotton things. Then pants, waist-
to-hem. Nooks and crannies for socks. Belts around the sides like snakes.
Plastic over that. Add shoes. Wear heavy stuff on the plane.
We started when I was little. I’d roll up socks. Then he’d pretend to put me
in the suitcase, and we’d laugh. Some guys bond with their dads shooting
hoops or talking about Chevrolets. We did it over luggage.
By the time I was twelve, if he was busy, I’d pack for him. Mom tried
but didn’t have the knack. He’d get somewhere, open his suitcase and text
me—”Perfect.” That one word from him meant a lot.
The funeral was terrible—him laid out in that big carton and me crying
and thinking, Look at all that wasted space.
Running time: Animated film, 5 1/2 minutes. “Making of” video, 4 minutes
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