Tuesday, Christmas Morning
by Virginia Lee Wood
Standing under the oven light, eating pie with our hands.
Huddled around the heater in silence.
Last week, Friday, we called the hospice nurse because he was drowning.
The last thing “they” are able to know of us, she said, is what they can hear, how we touch them.
This week, Friday, stealing all of the pens at the crematory because the funeral director joked that I “paid” for them already. Deep pockets of my winter coat.
Eating biscuits and gravy at a restaurant afterward that are the exact ones I eat at home.
On the day of his death, feeling that it is true that he is in the arms of the Lord.
On the day of his death, when it is quiet, thinking that I will keep his body.
The blackness around his teeth. The whiteness of his skin. Marks on his face that I never saw before.
The last time I touched him, I felt his heart beating. Was he able to hear us, wondering out loud if he was gone?
The day after his death, my mother wakes me at 5:30 in the morning and tells me to call the crematory. “He does not want us to keep his body,” she says. She wanted to keep him, too.
The smell of long-boiled cabbage. That smell that seeps into everything. I am smelling it all over, even after he is gone. Wondering about the collapsibility of time. I have always hated the smell of boiled cabbage.
I have always been pathologically afraid of my parents’ deaths. Afraid of driving. Afraid of being lost. I have a loathing for my younger self.
The day after his death, pledging to live in my father’s image. A dazed dream of a prayer for relief, release from fears.
Maybe the dream of prayer is enough to release myself.
About the Author:
Virginia Lee Wood is a Korean American writer currently working toward a PhD in Fiction and Ethnic Literature at the University of North Texas. She is the Assistant Fiction Editor at the American Literary Review. Her work has appeared in The Minnesota Review and now, happily, on CutBank Online.
About Weekly Flash Prose and Prose Poetry:
CutBank Online features one work of flash prose or prose poetry every Monday. Submissions are free and open year-round. Send us your best work of 750 words or less at https://cutbank.submittable.com/submit.