Nik De Dominic
My mother sends me pictures of herself. At first, I thought this odd. I know what she looks like. My father says that people do this when they think they are dying, send things out – knick knacks from the attic, baby pictures, ephemera. My father says most people think they are dying. I too have started to send pictures of myself out.
There was a time when my father was dying. He never sent out any pictures to anyone, though. I did live with him, & I guess it wouldn't have made sense to pay for the postage.
When my father was dying, I used to imagine his funeral every night before I went to sleep. He started dying when I was eight & stopped dying when I was twelve. I imagined his funeral 1460 times.
Around the 1193rd time, the third year, I stopped crying. Writing "Do not bend: Photographs enclosed" is redundant.
"Fragile" is much shorter.
This year, I have begun to teach freshman composition. Every time the class concludes, I am upset that I am alone in the room, packing my bag with papers, books.
A part of me wishes my students would stay afterward to bask in afterglow, to cuddle.
I figure out odd reasons to call my parents, late at night while in bed. Last night, I called my mother about moths.
There is a time difference.
I ask them questions I know the answers to. I ask them questions that I know they know the answers to.
I do the same with students.
It's like leaving your wallet at a lover's house, reason to return.
Will Lavender ward away these pestilent little things? They put holes in my wool. Yes, & Rosemary! Moths hate Rosemary!
Did I tell you I bought a new coat?
Two years ago, my step brother killed himself.
That is not true. It was two years ago they found him...
in the woods. He'd driven out into the Pacific Northwest & drank a bottle of Gatorade & anti-freeze. Time of departure becomes less important as time of arrival.
A plane ahead of schedule.
He left his suicide note on a floppy disk.
I wondered why not a flash-drive?
A blog, even.
My brother & I were pall-bearers; my other brother locked away 500 miles south in a half-way house in Korea Town.
We didn't know my step-brother well. It was just that we were the only ones who'd carry it.
At the wake, his two sons, too small to carry a casket, kicked a soccer ball against the church wall, shaking the structure, the congregation's casseroles vibrating on the fold out card tables.
They couldn't scrounge up any recent photos for the In Memoriam Pamphlet they handed out at the service.
The sick are not photographed.
The only photograph, the cover photograph, was a photo of Steve when he was nineteen, a soccer ball underneath his left cleat & Umbro shorts kissing his thighs.
I call my father to tell him I have a new coat, a wool jobby like he had in the navy—a pea-coat, like the one in the photos of him on Oahu's craggy shore.
I ask him if he still has his, a question I know the answer to.
Moths, a long time ago. Too bad, it was a good coat.
Lavender, I say.
If I had only known.
Before we hang up, I tell him to expect a package.
He tells me the same.