My Uncle Roy was a sweet and humble man, handsome and healthy. He worked hard, and he was there for me at certain dark times in my life. Not RIGHT there, but softly there. Strong and handy, he had a knack for tents and tools and four-wheel drives on the beach or in the desert. He liked pecan sandies and Fritos dipped in peanut butter, beers in the garage, vodka in the armchair watching football, and other dangerous stuff like body surfing. I didn't know him all that well, not like his wife and sons did, not like my dad did. To my dad, my uncle was a little brother. And all the red beans and rice in the world couldn't save him. Fuck you, cancer.
…and the end of day is aquarium colored
—Colette “Le Miroir”*
We believe we will live forever until
we can’t believe it again.
“Stars in the Mouth of the Wolf”
Fortunately, breathing under water
is easier, now that I admit to the drowning.
Even in this blue-green half-light, the cancer
stinks up the room—floats—covered in the white
sheets of nostalgia.The quiet is blinding.
Someone’s nephew is someplace else now, and we
are here remembering—fast cars from another world,
quiet is not as blinding as it is heavy,
heavy as a Hemi at the bottom of a
old blowfish is alive and well,
just not here, in this restaurant, in this desert
where fish are a tourist attraction.The brothers
will argue over who gets to pay the bill and be
thankful to be able.They like the blowfish story.
Don’t talk about the liver, the poisonous ovaries,
the sleeping pills of denial.Such tales keep me
up at night.All this sand is just tumbled rocks
slowly releasing their fossils into the currents.
Motor homes whir out of town, comforting
their passengers with the promise of blue-green
landscapes, but there cannot be enough water,
not anywhere in the world, to console this caravan.
*In this short story, an
older, and presumably wiser Colette has
a conversation with her
fictional double, Claudine, about youth and aging.