The patient fractures after
There are some truths we do not think about often; his cat that he stopped looking for, the cat’s brother who went to his aunt? His cousin? There are other truths that we think about with the frequency of tooth brushing; the leftovers in the fridge which stayed longer than he did, the last words “I’m tired.” Then there are the truths that are not true, that we will debate about, angrily. What was the last game we played together? What did he cook that day, pork chops? Ribs? There are still other truths that we will not think for a long time, perhaps a year or two years, and then they will take the weather. When he died, there was a bucket of vomit next to his bed.
He will continue dying after he dies. His board games will be taken and put in an untouchable place. The couple with a single painting of his will separate, and the painting will only hang on one of their two walls. We will all start moving to the country, to the city. We will not listen to the music he liked, except maybe briefly, maybe one day when we want to cry while driving, and then we will listen and we will struggle to breathe and the pain will be so deep, so complete that it will scare us.
We will touch his death over and over again, frantically, trying to find new pain in it and largely succeeding. We will look at pictures of him and listen to videos where he is laughing and think, “Thank God, thank God for this.” We cannot remember our own wailing, but we will miss the feeling of it. The clarity of our pain.
We will have other deaths, all of us, many times. The graveyard he is in will fill, and strangers will stand next to it, be buried next to it. Cars will rear end each other near it and the drivers will spend some time looking in it’s direction, waiting for a police car, not knowing him but feeling some fraction of the weight of death.
There will be things that do not relate to him at all. We will own pets he never met, eat at restaurants that opened after he was already dead, buried, gone. We will have children who will not know he existed, or if we tell them, they will forget. Or, we will not have children, we will have coworkers, we will have friends, we will tell jokes that he would not have laughed at, watch movies he would not have cried at, cook meals he would not have eaten. We will do these things and we will not think of him, sometimes.
Arlyn LaBelle is a poet and flash fiction writer living in Austin, Texas. Her work has appeared multiple times in the Badgerdog summer anthologies as well as The Blue Hour, LAROLA, JONAH Magazine, North of Oxford, The Oddville Press, Songs of Eretz, Grey Sparrow Press, Cease, Cows and The Southern Poetry Review.
Coming on February 15th – Poetry by Arlyn LaBelle, Akshaya Pawaskar, Nasim Basiri, Margaret A. Campbell and Judy Kronenfeld