Memory—died August 3, 2015. The
death was not sudden but slowly over a
decade. I wonder if, when people die,
they hear a bell. Or if they taste
something sweet, or if they feel a knife
cutting them in half, dragging through
the flesh like sheet cake. The caretaker
who witnessed my mother’s death quit.
She holds the memory and images and
now they are gone. For the rest of her
life, the memories are hers. She said
my mother couldn’t breathe, then took
her last breath 20 seconds later. The
way I have imagined a kiss with many
men I have never kissed. My memory
of my mother’s death can’t be a
memory but is an imagination, each
time the wind blows, leaves unfurl
a little differently.
Caretakers—died in 2009, 2010, 2011,
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017,
one after another. One didn’t show up
because her husband was arrested.
Most others watched the clock. Time
breaks for the living eventually and we
can walk out of doors. The handle of
time’s door is hot for the dying. What
use is a door if you can’t exit? A door
that can’t be opened is called a wall.
On the other side, glass can bloom. My
father is on the other side of the wall.
Tomatoes are ripening on the other
side. I can see them through the
window that also can’t be opened. A
window that can’t be opened is just a
see-through wall. Sometimes we’re on
the inside such as on a plane. Most of
the time, we’re on the outside looking
in such as doggie daycare. I don’t know
if the tomatoes are the new form of his
language or if they’re simply for eating.
I can’t ask him because on the other
side, there are no words. All I can do is
stare at the nameless bursting
tomatoes and know they have to be