Body and Mind
When my father died, he left two letters in separate envelopes, both marked “To be opened at my death.” One is addressed to my brother and me. The other is to his wife.
I imagine Warren and Adrianne as little archaeologists, trying to unearth the bones of their father’s life, holding up shoes and hats they’ve disinterred, old letters, a college ring inside a carved wooden box from Afghanistan.
Once there were two hogs and a sow who lived in a sturdy pen outside an old man’s hut. Then the old man died. That morning, no one brought food to the pen; the next morning, no one brought food to the pen. By evening the animals were panicked and ravenous, the bottom of the trough licked smooth as tile.
After I stoppped having concerns over a Row Five assignment, there was only one thing I actively feared: the tap. Once every week or so the Narc would tap an attendant on the shoulder and send him or her to the backroom to thin out the population.
How could so much intelligence and substance so quickly become lost? A powerful presence was gone from our lives. I carefully laid her head back down on the cool earth beside a big bouquet of dandelion flowers that Leslye must have left earlier in the day. Dandelions were always Anne’s favorite.
We lived in a place between mountains in the trout lands. The fish dwelt in the chill of eternal movement, slick and lithe and beautiful, in the curve of sapphire rivers twinkling with western sun. This was why we’d moved to Montana when I was a boy — to chase fish, in the church of my father’s religion.
Self-surrendering to prison, saving a life, wishing to have said “I don’t,” instead of, “I do”