The Blank Obituary

by August 22, 2023 0 comments

Aged 99, Father Joe Koski died,
his obituary only his name,
his age, no place of death, no place of birth,
no life between.

His last days were spent in a single room
where night was always falling soundlessly.
Caregivers turned him every two hours, then
placed a cushion between his hairless legs.

Singing of the Glory of God, did they
(Nana, Precious, Emmanuelle, Celeste)
call him Father or Mister Joe? Did he
cry out like the others on his floor?

Or was he silent, unwilling or un-
able to speak, beg for mercy or for home?
Or did he speak, try to charm Celeste,
Nana, and Precious who changed him, washed him?

Did anyone know who he had been once?
The grim, young priest who mumbled Mass, his back
to the congregation as they filed in
early each morning before work.

The jolly priest who drove the altar boys
up to Whalom Park and bought them Dairy Queen
afterwards. The priest who said the folk Mass,
listened to Simon and Garfunkel, tried

to save the boy who drowned in Lake Whalom.
The boy’s mom shuffled into daily Mass
before work. She believed her son could not
be saved if Father Joe couldn’t save him.

The boy’s aging sister cannot believe
in priests and Mass anymore. All these years
she has been waiting, scanning the paper
for this blank obituary.

editors note:

If not the life, then at least a satisfying death. – mh clay

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