One of Those Kinds of Final

Somewhere inside the house, your child is crying. A groan is rising from the basement of your wife’s body. No more work today.

Time to make peace with the archangel in the garden the thorns encroaching on the carport. The ivy’s slow nudge of the house off its foundations, a silent assault you can hear.

A china plate cracks under the load and there’s the sound of leaking. No more work today, nothing can be done. Night has come, though the sun still glares its psycho-honey light through every window.

The toxic rays barge like the marauders they say are coming. That are, of course, already here. Of course, have always been here. Had been the ones to clear this land. For centuries, they slept but now have woken hungry.

Your child’s cries pitch into screams. Darkness draws itself slowly around. We’re frogs in a slow boil. We don’t realize we’ve stopped seeing until we fall.                                                           

Time to make peace with the slug’s slow ooze across the elephant ear. Time to make peace with everything you didn’t get done. Everything you couldn’t say. Everyone you didn’t befriend as well as you wanted. No more work can be done. Night is here.

Though sometimes unlike your first hours, in your final ones, you get to choose how to spend them. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that this hour is one of those kinds of final.

Will you set your masks to rest inside their cases? Let the flowers wilt inside their vases and seize her in your arms as you once did. The child has cried himself to sleep. Birds sound their final songs. The sweet vinegar of gasping breaths ride the breezes, dune dry until the hyssop of this last succor.

When she takes off your suit, will she find your true skin? Or will that come off too, snared in the wefts of your serge sports coat? Will she find only slick muscle, horse flank after a gallop? Will she find only bone? Or, spade sharpened and in hand, as you hack at the earth, is it too late for you to be found?

Shaun Anthony McMichael

Shaun Anthony McMichael has taught writing to students from around the world, in classrooms, juvenile detention halls, mental health treatment centers, and homeless youth drop-ins throughout the Seattle area. Over 50 of his short stories, reviews, and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in literary magazines, online, and in print. He lives with his wife and son in West Seattle.