Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Funeral Director's Son

This may or may not have happened. Someone died. My father drove the black station wagon. I rode with him. Snow was falling. We arrived at the house of the survivors. Dad took up his red clipboard folio. He threw his cigarette out into the snow. It was already an inch deep. He told me to wait. He’d be out soon. He left the keys. It was cold. I knew how to run the heat. He said, okay. As though it was alright. As if to say, death is just a thing that happens, death is just a thing. He said, okay, and walked through the snow toward the house. His black coat, felt hat, and white hair disappeared. The flakes were huge. They drifted down side to side. Like feathers, they fell on the windshield. I imagined angels. Insubstantial figments. Their wings coming apart. Feathers falling down. Melting into nothing at all. I watched them fall. I wondered when Dad would come take me home. I felt myself grow cold. And imagined death. I figured it was about like this. Sitting in a car outside a house. Getting cold. The funeral director disappearing inside to help a family learn how to live without. Then snow covers everything. The white world goes dark and disappears.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Rain at Night

When I was young I knew. The rain at night, it can swallow you whole. A person goes out in the night rain at their own risk. My father went. Many a night. He was a funeral director. The phone on the wall rang. He answered, standing at the counter. He never stretched the cord. Yes, he said. Yes. Yes. Yes. He hung up, picked up the sheet on which he had written numbers, a name, the end of a story. I looked out the window into the dark. Heard the rain talk to the window. When I looked back, my father was pulling on his long coat. Settling his felt hat. His hair was so white. His keys jingled in his pocket as he walked out, slamming the back door. It shook the house, disturbed the dog. And I wondered if he would be swallowed by the rain that night. He never was. He brought back the dead. Old men. Older women. A young boy on Christmas Eve. The rain swallowed that kid’s parents whole. My father tried. But they were gone just as much as the boy. I knew it. When I was young.