by Dana Whtvr
I set down my flaming sword long enough to stare into
a hunting trip photo at my Grandfather’s
memorial. It shows two men, and him between them in
a dress and wig-hilarious joke (everyone
laughed), “abomination” an Uncle
scoffs casual-like now, tells story: “that’s the ugliest woman
I ever saw” man driving by says to man
in passenger seat (everyone laughs).
See: sadness and shame felt in my painted
toenails hidden in socks, the tie too tight around my neck,
clueless compliments about my long hair and hoops.
Retell the story a different way: at 10, a buck strung for skinning
from the eaves; the droppings he cut out and put in my palm.
I can never breathe in church, but this morning I took communion
for the first time in 9 years, for the old man-God knows why.
Over his grave beside his stillborn first daughter’s,
I become the hospital where he died-Queen of
the Valley (think meanest motherfucker: full crown
of antlers on my head, long locks of weeping
willow dyed with blood trailing in the wind, time
turned back on itself, a naked Eve naming all the animals).
Pulling my dress off the hanger, I bear witness:
the empty center of the universe like a liver spot;
wind in my hair, sun on my bare shoulders;
and under the ground, hidden in the urn,
his miserable ashes in drag.
*Title quoted from the obituary for James E. Fidler published in the Napa Valley Register, 08/28/2017