Life is given humans so we can imagine the eventual posture of our corpses—a paraphrase of Pentti Saarikoski. I’m haunted by my father’s body, its lying face down on the floor of the retirement complex, the face blue from heart failure, hands still clutching the New York Times. The man died with the intent to read. Death was sudden. That is, as they say, about as good as it gets.
Forgive me. My holiday mood is altogether dark, inchoate, tiny fishes of doubt and fear and aversion swim inside me. I don’t seem to be able to help myself. Last night I prayed as I lay down. I asked to be made kinder and stronger. I am aware this isn’t hip.
Strictly speaking I’m not hip. When I was very young I thought the postman was the coolest person alive. Wanting to be like him I walked up and down our rural street ringing doorbells and handing out out old copies of, you guessed it, the New York Times.
I am not sad. The fishes in my bloodstream are too mindful for sadness.
Today is St. Stephen’s Day. The fishes inside him were something.