Thursday, April 29, 2010

The happy art of sorrow

His death will be like a plane ride. He won't die in a terrible aeronautic accident. That's not what I'm saying. But he'll die with the sensation of a stuffy-aired space, curving over a cube of words, claustrophobic.

In the years that remain, Katie will say in that way she does, a million times over it'll seem, that although he was born in a house so high up in the one hill in town that the only way for it to truly settle was to tumble piece-by-piece until it became nothing more than a skeleton of rotted 2X4s covered by rough shingles, he's now a man of wealth, of means, of a wallet crammed with a current of proud, stern presidents; this isn't common, not something most people could ever realistically expect, but it's yours and still you act like an infant in soiled diapers, face beaten beet red and tears spilling out of your wormhole eyes.

He's come to resent her. But not enough to leave.

So there will be more tongue lashings.

They will be battered rams. Deers in headlights.

The fisticuffs of life together will be gloves off.

Katie will come home that last time. Her grocery bags will be filled with things sprung from the local earth.

She'll put them away, right where they belong, whistling a song that's never really been written and where not a single note repeats.

She'll call his name a few times, each time more forcefully than the last. She'll hear her own voice echoing back from the kitchen tiles.

That'll spur a search, a scouring.

When she turns the doorknob to the room, she'll find him under layers of blankets, in a clap of sunlight. She'll find that he's swallowed things that combine badly.

Her tears, when they come, will be the wrong kind. Warm not hot. Streams not bursts.

She'll write his obituary in blue pen, send it into the newspaper. Both newspapers. It'll be his whole history. The wind of it will be long and exhaustive. She'll leave nothing out.

Nothing, of course, except his last private sensation. The one where his stomach goes sick with the perfect, empty feeling of lift off.

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