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death

To wear a vigorous shirt. At See-See Coffee

       in the bathroom, a sticker on the hot-water tank 
 says, It only takes one or two 

seconds to become 
 helpless in flowing grain, or among flowering graves, 
            down where the boats are being unloaded. 
   It happens so swift, that one 

Illustration by Anna Schuleit Haber

The Pardner

It has been a year and five days since Mayowa lost her daughter—lost, because she cannot say the other word: suicide. 

Illustration by Anders Nilsen

The Boys

It happens. A close relative dies. One who lives elsewhere. And then some time has to be set aside, even if no such thing is possible. Because of work, because of a lack of funds when it comes to traveling.

Illustration by Anders Nilsen

Learning

It’s hard to know which of us began to wear our shoes in the apartment, but one of us did—one of us, then the other. First it was just in the kitchen, but soon there were tracks in the bedroom, bathroom, living room, everywhere. Old receipts and leaves crept in. The floor grew filthy. We got out-of-season colds. Ellen let clumps of her hair tumbleweed around, clogging the carpet, the drains, and I was no longer careful with the dishes, dropping plates and glasses so often we learned not to flinch at the smash, and though we still recycled, we did so poorly, never rinsing, never sorting, curbing them on the wrong night. We both knew the baking soda had been in the freezer a very long time, many years, a lifetime, but neither of us made a move to dispose of or replace it.

Trout

Two years after her mother’s death, Jane’s boyfriend asked her to marry him, and nine months later, they moved across the country to start their new life. Jane was twenty-nine, ready to step away from Phoenix after a hard few years. Ryan had taken a job at a recording studio in Tennessee, and he pointed out that the public schools there were as bad as the ones in Arizona, so she could easily fail teaching fourth graders in either place. Her father was a kind, if distant, ichthyologist, and he seemed to think the move was maybe not ideal, but maybe not a bad idea. Jane was excited to start over. She’d been adopted when she was six, and she thought of six as the beginning of her real childhood. As they drove out of town, she decided twenty-nine was the beginning of her real adult life.

Life Is Why

The average adult has eight pounds—twenty-two square feet—of skin. Healthy adults can lose a liter of blood before going into shock, and vital signs help monitor the onset and stages. Unlike adults, children can lose nearly half their blood volume and still have a blood pressure holding steady. With shock, “adult vital signs go up the mountain and then drop off,” our EMT instructor Nancy says. “Children’s are like, ‘I’m okay, I’m okay—DEAD.’”

The Vulture & the Body

On my way to the fertility clinic,

                                  I pass five dead animals.

First a raccoon with all four paws to the sky
               like he’s going to catch whatever bullshit load falls on him next.

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