AprPAD Day 7: The Curious Thing About Death


It’s a curious thing, how the dead return. They visit
loved ones, offer words of wisdom and warnings,
pronouncements at the foot of your bed, a chin-wag
from beyond. Take Grandpa. He returned to warn
my cousin that his time was short:

Prepare, he was told.

Prepare for what, is what I’d want to know, but he
didn’t ask that. He’s a preacher’s son – he drinks
in his faith like I drink Earl Grey tea. And when
Grandpa stood in our basement while my sister
and I practised playing the piano twice a day, why
didn’t he, Grandpa, say something like:

Try F-sharp, my girl” … or “Brava, very nice”

or applaud, but he didn’t – he just stood there like
a shadow in cobwebs, there in the corner by the old
coal shoot, wearing a brown paper bag with a folded
cuff round his head like a hat. Grandpa’d been dead
many years by then. And when my dad died, Mother
said that he came and sat by her in his usual chair,
the one with the mousey squeak when he rocked,

and my sister said that she saw a dove fly within
inches of her car right after he died, but there was
nothing dove-like about my dad, and I never saw
nor felt him after he passed on. And I’m not sure
if I should be sad or glad about that, uninvited visits,
intrusions, ghosts toying with the sanctity of life

and scaring the shit out of me. And why would Dad
want to leave heaven just to sit and rock in an old
squeaky chair? Questions, which I suppose leads me
to that river that flows through Boise in a rough
and tumbling way. After a good agitation, it
unbridles itself flat and serene into the Idaho
desert. Its surface is as silent and still as a table,

except for the occasional dragon fly or trout that
jumps at the setting sun, a last taste of warmth
before night chills the air. I once stood on a sun-
warmed cliff above that river – you can follow its
journey to the horizon, marked by a long, lush green
ribbon of tall silver birch trees that line the river bank,

like thirsty beasts seeking a taste of water. And as the
breeze danced along the river’s surface, it caught
the birch leaves, turning and twisting them in the full
heat of the white midday sun like spangles on a stripper,
like metallic sequins adorning thirsty long-limbed
ghosts dressed in white shades of beaded gowns.

It’s a curious thing, death, because whenever I see
a tall silver birch tree, I always think of my dad,
although I don’t think my dalliances go so far as
to think he’s returned as a silver birch tree.

Recursions Day 7: Sing Willow Willow Willow


5 thoughts on “AprPAD Day 7: The Curious Thing About Death

    • Thanks for popping over for a read, Celi. I’m very appreciative of your time. An interesting angle, isn’t it – that we fear what other people think more than we might fear a ghost. One day we’ll have answers to all these marvellous mysteries. 🙂

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