My aunt comes to me, her angry brown eyes cut me; her cancer
ridicules me. I slip and fall backwards on the decades holding
my secrets, sliding from old man towards young boy, a young boy
I imagine to be but never have been. Neither she nor I say anything.
We wait for the dream’s drama to unfold: plot points to twist and turn: I hurt,
I cry, I take flight, I pray Jesus understands the wicked. From somewhere
my uncle snarls. He is young, muscular, years from becoming the jovial rich man I remember: “Jesus? Shit, boy, he ain’t gonna forgive you,” he says, accentuating
his presence with a familiar laugh —
My mother would say my aunt and uncle are angry for the way I’ve ignored her,
but she is not in this dream, she is not of the death playing out in this dream,
she isn’t in my head living in some unrecognizable space where shadows play
host to familiar voices — this night: my father, my first wife, a Jamaican mental
patient struggling for breath as a forefinger and thumb crush his Adam’s apple.
“Shits and giggles,” my father says, but I don’t laugh. His Old Spice fumes
repulses me: “Go away, fucker.” He stays. He introduces my first wife. She is
nineteen, chunky; I apologize for never loving her. She weeps a remembered cadence, before erupting into a mania many years misdiagnosed.
But the Jamaican mental patient confuses me. His name? I can’t remember his
name. I wait. I focus. I see his face: bulging eyes, they are familiar: hauntings from a profession I long ended. Is that my forefinger and thumb? I don’t know.
My violence lingers in echoed thoughts, rapid visions, churning storms, hopeless prayers chanted by disappointed children waiting for their father to surface…
It won’t be long ’till the hydrocodone kicks in.
© chuck a stetson 2015