Dad, Space-Saving and Watertight

by February 11, 2021 0 comments

I connected the vacuum.
Sucked the life out of your clothes.
Plastic suffocated into iridescent canyons
Each fabric gave its own death rattle; cotton gurgled the longest
Your cologne (Acqua Di Gio?) and Pabst Blue Ribbon
You, combing your hair before a date with Mom
You, sneaking to the rusted refrigerator in the garage to chug a paper-bag beer
Is it still a drinking problem if it’s out of sight?
I see you in the compressing clothes
You, inviting a homeless woman to our Thanksgiving
You, asleep on the couch
You, awake when I change the channel
You, reaching into the glovebox for Marlboro Lights
Are you still a smoker if you only breathe in half the pack?
You, in neon golf shirts
You, in that checkered snow hat with the ear flaps
I found out it’s called an ushanka but
You were already gone.

Cancer connected the vacuum.
Sucked the life out of you.
Freckled skin dwindled into opaque papier mâché:
Carcinoma, Malignant
Terminal
2016
Mixed-media sculpture
For three months, I watched your plastic crinkle until
There wasn’t much emptiness left for the vacuum to take
Grandma bought you a cardinal red stocking cap to wear
To find you in the next life
Thanksgiving in September, and then you left
She kept the ashes, but I kept the rest
My quiet compaction of Dad –
Space-saving and watertight, tucked into a box in the garage.
You, hermetically sealed:
Your cologne (yes, Acqua Di Gio) and Pabst Blue Ribbon
Rusted refrigerator in the garage, homeless woman, Marlboro Lights half empty
You, in neon golf shirts
Sometimes, I unseal the plastic and meet you there
You smile at me
You, in that checkered ushanka

– Samantha Kalla

editors note:

Keep your memories fresh for ready reminiscence. – mh clay

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