on saying that it is almost like my father is dead now:
my father is dead but not funeral-dead
i don’t know how to build a memorial out of my memories
& turn my flashbacks into a eulogy
i do not have the words for what’s happened to me.
i don’t have the words for what he rotted into,
the way the shreds of our relationship are
festering under my skin.
funeral-dead is scratchy black dresses
and unasked for pity
leftovers spoiling in the kitchen with the air conditioning turned off.
grief-dead is a thought experiment:
if no one knows my father is dead
then my grief does not exist
except at two in the morning
& two thirty-four in the morning
& two forty-five –
on saying that it is almost like my father became a zombie:
i don’t understand why people like zombie movies
zombies are a lot more creepy when you have to live with one.
the same body my father once lived in is walking around without him.
“zombie” is easier to say than “gone now” or more accurately “gone crazy”
gone means he can come back, and we both know he isn’t coming back any time soon.
gone means sentimental staring out a rainy window and
my memories are more jump-scare than nostalgia, more panic than warmth
the only good thing about him not being funeral-dead is there isn’t a funeral i have to speak at, i
he died –
at ten in the morning when his screams rattled my locked door
swallowed in the mouth of every woman he hurt when she cried out for help –
in my bed at night.
i try to wash my sheets
but they still smell of damp roadkill.
his death is a poltergeist that keeps me company in bed at night
a parasite that somehow wormed its way into my ear
i grieve him twice: once for going crazy
& once for going bad
as if the crazy was not the sickness that wound its way into weakened wood
until he fell.
as if the badness had not been there all along.
i can’t grieve the cauterized black-and-white loss of funeral-dead
(it’s a courtesy i haven’t been given)
but saying “sick” is –
as a child i used to wonder when his death would find me
creeping on kitten toes
and climbing in my bedroom window
but his death is tangled knots
& no matter how many times i stay up at night i will never know.
on saying that my father is dead now:
at two-forty-five in the morning
my bed dips under the weight of his death keeping me company.
& maybe his death knows what he does not:
that in between mourning who he was and refusing to forgive who he’s become
i can find a kind of peace
that he never will.