Part One

Darrell died.  His heart stopped.
He was sitting in his brown, reclining chair.
No one thought about masks. No one sanitized the air.
It was a month before the installation of Saint Fauci
and all that.

Darrell and Janet,
our neighbors from across the street.  I was twelve.
They loved my great-grandmother.  She loved them.
They treated me as if I belonged, as if I mattered.
They were older,
but not so old they’d ever step inside an un-ending horizon,
at least not in my time.

Darrell. Gone.
Darrell inside the air, making up his own horizon,
like a contrail.
Darrell forever in his chair;
yet no trace; no pictures. Eyes wide; voices covered.

Our grand-parents knew his milk-man father, Hans.
Darrell was always a little boy in their eyes.
It was before me; before Janet, his love; his reason.
He walked to the grocery store, stood next to his father
and claimed his place.  Eventually, he drove tractors for a living.
He liked to recite tehillim.
Darrell and his stories:
his characters never cussed,
never gossiped.

I left a message on his cell phone the day he died.
I thought he might still be in his chair.
No one returned my call.
Not his son,
not his daughter;
not even Janet.
Everybody gone.  Simple as it was.

(One spring day, driving back from Lompoc,
Darrell said “the dead know nothing…they’re just dead.”
I was sixteen.  We laughed.
Janet said, “Stop it Darrell.  You’ll scare her.”)

Months of horizons spill upon the Tepesquet Mountains
east of town.  I suppose Darrell’s chair was really empty.
I’d given him my great-grandmother’s antique clock
to remember her when she died. I was afraid he’d forget us.
Now I’m worried.  Is there someone left to wind it?

Part Two

Months of silence pass…
Then I dreamt Janet into death:
“I’ve died.  I was lying in bed and missed Darrell.
Sorry I didn’t call you.  I should have called. We should have
cried together and remembered the past—
things like driving back from Lompoc, evening visits and Darrell
saying Kaddish for your grandparents.”

I knew it was her because it was a shy, rosy voice.
It made the horizon catch fire.
Then it was morning. I was awake.
There was Janet, smiling from an internet death-notice.
Still, that’s one obituary that truly surprised me.
So much for “the dead knowing nothing;
at least they know they’re dead.

Janet and Darrell
no longer in the world.  Imagine that.
Imagine empty chairs, stripped beds,
silent clocks, rosy voices towering above the crowd
as if G-d was making faces at us.

Oh well.  Now we use masks so G-d can’t find our faces.
What progression—a bureaucrat’s most spotless accomplishment in history.

Part Three

Soon it will be Memorial Day:
barbeques for those who’ve died this past year;
each person, all at once,
a few stories for the living;
nostalgia for the dead,
a bon-fire, so the children won’t leave frightened.

The long drive home…
…then summer grabs hold.

Article by Author/s
Tovli Simiryan
Tovli Simiryan lives near Lake Erie with her husband Yosif, who does all the talking. Tovli spends her time filling up little pieces of paper with words until they morph into stories and poems, eventually discovering lives of their own.

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