A journal of narrative writing.
The Day After Dougie's Wake

It was like a series of moments
held together with the clear string
some families might lace
with old popcorn for a tree, or
the fishing line I was afraid
to touch as a child. My grandfather would say
easy poppet and bait the line for me. Then,
spitting his chew, pulling my arm
back and then forward
we both said, release
and cast the line.

Here, it was the same. This
was a release. In the background
someone said a prayer, Our Father
who art in heaven. . . Arlene,
the Methodist Pastor from the church
on the corner
said that prayer
makes us whole.
We went there once
on Easter, as a family. In that stone
building, cherry wood benches,
something was said of Jesus
and even then
I said he was just a man.

And the food. There was so much
food — slices of ham
and roast beef rolled
and stacked in small triangles. It was all
leftover and still, perfect
little buildings of meat and cheese
and the smell of bread
from the refrigerator. On Christmas Days
my mother would make her own
platters — cold cuts
by the pound and grandma's sterling platter.
It's the Scottish in me, she said
every time.

And in front of each of us
a shot of whiskey. One cup
at the head of the table, untouched.
It sat there for hours
until the family flocked back
to the meat and bread. I stayed
back, just for a moment
and poured Dougie's whiskey
into my empty cup.