Obituary #4: Older Cousin

Cleared her throat like a paper cutter.

Pushed me by my arm to face my failing great-grandfather dying in his hospital bed.

Told me my dog was queerbait. Raised his back legs off the ground. Hey. Wiggled the little hams of his shaved behind. Hey.

Said I had common sense but that didn’t mean smart.

Said I was the kind girlfriends cheated on, not with.

Dove into swimming pools the way she said Navy Seals do: upright, with their arms crossed over their chest.

Me at 15: skateboard tricks until called home.

Her: making fried potatoes for a stepfather.

Asked me that first time: These butter mints free?  

Looked at her and then at the cashier, who wasn't looking at either of us.

Told her: Free.

Asked again: Free?   

Told her: What's wrong with you? Take as many as you want already.

Free mints, she said to herself.

Reached for the end of the spoon in the crock.

Placed the mints on the spoon with her finger, picky as a jeweler: one. one. one. one. one.

Then the spoon was full.

Then she put the spoon in her mouth.

Died in a care center repeating the same question she inevitably asked in every conversation: Am I right or am I right?

I began the eulogy with a literal truth: she was the tallest cousin in the family.

Ended it with an apocryphal one.

It rained one day.

The flooded streets ran with water.

She carried us cousins on her shoulders. Bent a knee to let down one and the other and the other again.

Onto the big front porches the houses all seemed to have back then.

Bird Report

Sparrows and a crow in the faculty parking lot. Petty drama over a fast food bag. The sparrows peck. The crow paces, outnumbered.

The old-man legs sticking out of the knicker pants. The bony feet that you have to lift like snowshoes just to walk.

Another day of complaints.