Lucinda Kempe ~ Imperative You Should Know

Every June for forty-sev­en years…The black rotary phone rang, and my moth­er rocked the cra­dle. Her liq­uid voice stopped me cold. You hanged your­self in your bed­room in your mama’s house. Except Mama lied. Said you’d used a gun. Believed the lie “less gruesome.”

June and I’m count­ing towards you. The ninth. 1974. I was fif­teen. Though I hard­ly knew you, the day sus­pends in present tense despite the past, like a pre­his­toric fern in an amber.

Amber is the col­or of gold. It is beau­ti­ful. Resin. I am coat­ed in the col­or of you, of the mem­o­ry of your leav­ing, of your depar­ture. I under­stand the des­per­a­tion. I have been sad, too. Sometimes the dolor embraces me like a hand­some killer, one I dream about. Striking like you. The man with the eyes as blue as my blond-head­ed dolls. A poet. An actor. A painter and a schizophrenic.

I am the only child of an only son. You lie in St. Roch Cemetery behind a vault with its closed eye.



We all fall down.


Lucinda Kempe’s work has been pub­lished or is forth­com­ing in newSouth, Midway Journal, Matter Press, Bending Genres, The Southampton Review, and Summerset Review. Wigleaf long list­ed her micro fic­tion in 2018, 2019 and 2020. One of Those Girls, an excerpt of her mem­oir The Dirty Debutantes’ Daughter, was short list­ed for the Fish Memoir Prize in April 2021. She lives on Long Island where she exor­cis­es with words.