Mercy for Paper Jesus' MAGA In-laws

Death is a fear for even the faithful.

My father-in-law has the virus.

He returns with it after a wedding at a church with faded flags behind the pulpit.

The virus waits in him like oil for a lamp, and then the lamp is burning.

The virus turns him silent, turns his wife watchful and vexed. Her husband is sicker than all the times he was sick in all the years of their long marriage.

She worries her nails like a newlywed.

Never a tooth missing from his mouth but this one! she tells the family.

The virus makes him sleep. He dreams of his two sons. He dreams of flute girls. He dreams of his grandfather’s wooden toolbox of augurs and iron bits and of himself as his father, a young man tapping sugar maples in the Ohio winter.

He dreams of the three trees of grace. The pines around the cemetery in South Charleston where his father and mother and sisters are buried.

His family came and stood outside the house. His children and his grandchildren, holding their children, his great grandchildren. I was present with my wife, the middle daughter. We’d all gathered by the apple tree like a choir from a country church. When my father-in-law was brought to the sliding glass door, what else to do? I waved at him like the rest.

Slow-eyed as Lazarus, he waved back.

Now in the mornings, to help clear his lungs, my mother-in-law plays the piano, and she and my father-in-law bellow patriotic songs from the Baptist hymnal.


So loud the deer outside the bay window look up from their grazing.  

But then another headache. But then another commotion in the bowels.

But then another litany of activist vitamins and ivermectin.

He's taking what Mr. Trump is taking! my mother-in-law tells my wife.

"Don't even," I say.

My father-in-law sleeps again sitting up on the couch, the tv muted, the Christian radio station playing a sermon.

Thus, Jesus lets the deer resume their grazing.

Bird Report

Nuthatches on the hackberry, walking upside down on the trunk and then on bottom of the branches. Nervous. Alert for owls. Aristotle says that all creatures are at enmity with the carnivores, and the carnivores with all the rest*.

*History of Animals