OBIT [Clothes]

Victoria Chang

Clothes—died on August 10, 2015.  We
stuffed them into lawn bags to donate. 
Shirt after shirt, button-down after
button-down, dress after dress, limb
after limb.  A few leapt out to me like
the flame from a nightmare, the kind of
flame that almost seems human in its
gestures.   I kept those.   I kept the
hundreds of pencils.  I am writing with
a pencil from my mother’s drawer.  It
says Detroit Public Schools, where she
taught.  Each sentence fights me.  Once
we  rolled  her  downstairs,  played
croquet and putt putt golf.  She sat and
watched, her vacant eyes not seeing
anything we saw.    As if she were
looking beyond us, beyond the sun. 
The days of August already made a
certain way that she could see and we
couldn’t.  I left her in the sun too long. 
One child doing cartwheels on the grass
as my mother looked on, wearing the
white  blouse  with  the  small  pink
flowers swirling in a pattern.  I kept the
stare.   I kept the flowers.   And I
donated the vacant shirt.

More by Victoria Chang

OBIT [Memory]

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.

Mr. Darcy

Then we are in the back seat of a car kissing
           not the light kind but one where our
    hands are on each other’s cheeks holding
                 each other’s heads as if they will fall

off why does so much love come at the beginning
           then disappear then once again at the moment
      before death why can’t the same kind exist
                  in between in the breaths in the

afternoon in the sitting room in a place of costumes
            little girls dress like princesses one pink one
      blue one yellow they wear plastic heels because
                 they still think they will never fall

Dear P.

Someone will        love you     many will      love

you         many will brother you   some of these

loves will        bother you   some   will      leave you

one might        haunt   you      hunt you in your

sleep        make you       weep the tearless kind of

weep the         kind of weep   that drowns your

organs     slowly    there are little oars  in your body      

little boats   grab onto them and row and        row

someone will tell you      no       but you won’t   know

he is    right until you have   already        wrung your  

own heart dry    your hands dripping knives    until

you have    already   reached your hands into       his       

body and put them through his        heart     love is

the only thing that       is not    an       argument