My Knuckle-Headed Boy
I close my eyes and return to your childhood often, under the sheets reading by flashlight, up in a tree, at the checkout line with only toilet paper, you pretending to be on your phone, Calm down, we've got it. We'll be right there, just stay seated. I pour a lot of liquids. Your sister has named my liver Larry, a pet she is trying to keep alive. Even with such dirt between us, I keep going back to the last time you held my hand, fifth grade, walking toward the school door. Even in death I could feel the power in your legs, rock-hard from all the early-morning miles. As you reached out and grabbed my hand I thought cherish! cherish! You died at 10:21 a.m. At 12:12 p.m. you received an email from Extra Life, the gamer's charity where you donated to the Children's Miracle Network. Come back to Extra Life, the email said. We miss you...*sniff*. I try to go to bed early and get up early. But, of course, every morning when I rise you've already beaten me up and headed to your spot in the garden under the oaks.
So, your son pulled the pin and rolled the grenade into the family room? Let me guess, you didn't expect love to crucify you and now you are trying to make sense of the senseless? Your walls are painted blasted-family blue, various fragments still to be gathered. Utter ruin ain't so bad, though. You had a cup of coffee this morning, eh? Try to remember a less-scorched time before the cacophony and ear-drum damage, a time of tulips, perhaps, or sunflowers and puppies. Live there until the swoon subsides. Of course, even the good times are tainted meat now, the knowledge of the cliff ahead, the jagged rocks, the crash site. When that sense of panic arrives, drop to the nearest flora and study its leaves, ooh and aah over the wonders of photosynthesis until the spasms pass. You'll be a botanist before you know it. There are some things impervious to counseling, some creatures that remain inconsolable.
Brian Builta lives in Arlington, Texas, and works at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Jabberwock Review, Juke Joint Magazine, South Florida Poetry Journal, New Ohio Review and TriQuarterly. These prose poems are from a manuscript titled "A Thursday in June," written in the wake of my son's suicide at age 16.