Sunday, June 12, 2016

Tell Me, Are you a Christian, Child. I said, Ma'am I am Tonight

Be careful with the word deserve, my papa says. Don't throw it around. 

* - * - *

Yesterday, like every June 11th for the last 16 years, I acknowledged the dead. Sacrificed to the fire gods, gods of grief and chaos, to the quiet, to the natural order of life.
 I swallowed down so many 'what if's' and 'I wish' and 'but, why's' to turn my stomach sour. I kept my body still or slow, hands close to my rib cage, and my mouth closed.

* - * - *

Sixteen years ago on June 11th, I woke up to my dad screaming around 3:30 am. There was too much noise, too much smoke, too much tired to comprehend at that moment that my house was burning down. I stood up out of bed and immediately was forced to the ground -- smoke, as they say, is no joke. Confusion and incessant screaming forced me, on my knees, to the living room: rage, hot, orange, loud. Instincts said back door. I saw his legs at the front door. He did not see me. He had a mole on the back of his right leg. I watched those legs walk out to clean air.

They say he went back into the house. They say they found his body in the kitchen. I envision, even still, half a body.

When I was 14, living in the country with a step-dad and post-divorced mom, one of our pigs got out of his pen in the night. I came upon the body in the morning before school, ripped apart and bloodied. Back legs and haunches in tact -- mangled in the middle, but head, heart, face gone This is always how I think of my dad's burnt body abandoned near the pantry.

What happened in those last few minutes? Do I deserve to know?

* - * - *

What if he could say: go on?
Could I?

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