Convention (I) - Articles 16, 17
Art. 16 - Recording and forwarding of information
Art. 17 - Prescriptions regarding the dead. Graves Registration Service
At 29, I am already feeling old.
The hairs in my nose are turning grey
and breaking off like a dog's whiskers in winter.
I keep finding pieces of them standing out
against the wood-grain laminate.
(I make notes to myself to look into Vitamin E
I remember lunch at the Vietnamese restaurant,
which is funny now, when I think of it,
when my father exposed the cancer.
A sludge of corrupted past and futures pulled
out of his throat
(he was already hoarse).
It stuck to the table, soaked my banh mi
and spread tendrils across lacquered panels
(the walls of the cell were melting).
I stumbled, blinking, outside
(it had been March)
to find the sun and trees were frozen and bursting
apart to reveal a slow, hidden ochre
skimming leaves from branch ends
once hidden like bones.
Inside of us,
the late and further unexpected casualties
of the defoliant campaign
(Already, all he could eat was soup)
The only thingI could think to do was get him
a voice recorder.
I don't know why it seemed to me
that if I had to lose him,
I could still save his stories.
Maybe I could even save the way he told them.
(I don't think he ever used it).
One of us lost it.
Two months later he died.
A week later he called me,
to wish me happy birthday
and also good luck on exams.
It was a terrible birthday.
(But did he sound like himself again?
I was asleep and the line was so fuzzy.)
He called me again that summer, from a gas station,
to tell me my brother was with him.
When I woke up, I really did call Elliot
and told him to drive safely.
I don't know that he did, but he did avoid gas stations,
(Either way, he and I still talk in person)
And now, two or three or whatever years later,
my dad calls less often. Even then,
the voice is muffled,
all around greyer
(like my nose hairs).
And before I fall back asleep, I replay a converstaion
Elliot and I had
at what's now my dad's widow's house.
We were grilling and drunk by the fire
and he asked me to go inside where she kept it,
and "Say, 'what's up' to Dad."
But I said, "He's not in there, in that jar."
But I also said that he was inside us.
I replay all of it again to myself,
(But I'm not sure what I mean.)