13 Ways of Looking At Death

1. I drive down Highway 80 and gaze at the landmarks you enjoyed when you were still alive.

2. The farm outside of St David, with grazing, tufted llamas behind a chain-link fence.

3. The roadside yucca tree that declined with each passing. It began lopsided, as if slightly drunk, but slumped more each month, until it bent in half and collapsed. Brown leaves splay in the wind like brittle knives.

4. One afternoon, you said the tree was you.

5. Your tree is barely alive now, but you died mid-spring. I watched a cat wander across the edge of the roof next door. Your body in the narrow bed and a cat outside the window. Both oblivious to each other, and to me.

6. I fiddle with the radio, find the song “Take the Long Way Home” by Supertramp, and start to cry. God, my nerves are shot.

7. Every time we went to Tombstone, drunk cowboys embraced you in bars without knowing why. They sensed you were dying and needed a goddamned hug, so to hell with contagion. You didn’t tell them. They could see it in your face and the curve of your spine.

8. Every day I remember to look at the box of your ashes on top of the bookcase. I haven’t touched it in months. The invisible weight stares down at me without reproach. Just the dust of bones. You are somewhere else.

9. I think about you when I brew coffee and notice how slowly the beans disappear. I make one overflowing cup, savor it the entire morning. A pound lasts almost a month. You don’t need coffee when you’re dead. 

10. While reading through some of our instant messages last week. I accidentally pressed the video chat function and tried to contact you. After I hung up, a timestamp appeared: 7:51 PM, September 27, 2021.

11. I wonder if your emails accumulate like unwashed laundry. Hundreds, then thousands of missives you will never read. And whether one day they’ll stop, once everyone figures out you won’t answer.

12. I wonder if I must feel this way for the rest of my life. If I should explain to you why I don’t want to always live alone. Why I still love sex and food and music. Why entire days go by without me shedding a tear.

13. One day I will drive down the highway without seeing everything your eyes touched. The landscape will fade and become anonymous. You once said the brain was like a computer that could delete data it no longer found useful. I don’t know what you were trying to forget. I hope it wasn’t me.



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