Just a few days before my father died in 2014, I asked him a question some might find insensitive or inappropriate: “So, what are your thoughts now about dying?”
I sometimes think I recognize the face
of my own death. Knowing it is nearer
makes me feel it ought to be familiar,
a neutral guest I’ve seen somewhere before.
I asked When? And How?
I was thirteen. My cousin, twelve.
It said I would be 41.
The same age my mother was that Christmas.
Elvis was 42 when he died. Jesus, 33.
Sitting at the table with the paper birds,
she unfolded mine and began to read.
I couldn’t make out a word
she was saying.
We’d just discovered a new word—necropolis—
and now we wanted a city of the dead
of our own. But it was too hard digging life-size
trenches, so we settled for the flower garden
our mother wouldn’t need anymore.
I could talk
Two hours past midnight with
My father in the steelworker
Idiom of his city.
I’m the last sister standing — but tonight I mean to lie down, to practice being in the box