In No Particular Order
By Carl Kopman
I remember in no particular order my mother dying twice, one lung filling with the fluid of another.
I remember standing on the fish-slime deck of the Alice B–a double ended Monterey–tied to the fish dock on the Albion River, water lapping at its sides, waiting for the rising tide to the salmon.
I remember on a cold Brooklyn morning walking with my father along the path of the courtyard of my parent’s apartment complex carrying the remains of my Mother’s clothing to the incinerator.
~ We could give it to someone in need, I said.
~ No, his voice bitter and frail, an unlit, heavily chewed cigar clenched in the corner of his mouth.
~ Better this way he said.
I remember sitting by her bedside, just arrived, uncomfortable in my borrowed shoes.
I remember the Sheriff’s car driving onto the fish dock, going from boat to boat, handing me the telegram.
I remember being shown the yellow pine box with nails pushing through its edges, then the polished walnut coffin, its seams filled with shiny brass.
I remember the conversation when she rose from her coma.
~You’ve come back.
~You’ll stay with him.
~ Promise me.
~Bring me Daddy.
Her dying after she kissed him.
I remember my hippie girlfriend trimming my beard so I’d look good for the journey.
I remember my cousin Barry, whom I hadn’t seen since childhood and whom I haven’t seen since, handing me his business card
~If you need a job give me a call.
I remember Cap’t Larry Miller, reaching across the rails of the Alice E as I stepped onto the fish dock, handing me fifty dollars; all in ones.
I remember forcing her clothing through the small black-iron door opening to the incinerator; her shoes, dresses, underwear bursting into flame, turning to smoke. I was afraid to touch her brassiere, one cup stuffed with a false breast.
I remember my father.
~Stay with me.
I remember the promise I made to my mother.
I remember looking out the window of a Greyhound bus at a dirty city where I never found the love I could accept.