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.