36. Auto-Connecticut

Elena texts him while he is in chemo, sweet gesture

across the country, Are you chemoing, dad? for the hour

he is hooked to toxins. I got a job. What are you reading?

Still Proust, he says, until the end of my life, that’s the plan.

Sounds boring. I want to read the last page of the last volume,

surrounded by friends, and then die. I don’t like you to talk

about death. Nobody does. Caroline won’t listen to him,

but he knows, the way only he can know, what’s coming.

How does it feel, dad? It hits me like a body blow, someone

throws a punch at my gut and then the toxins explode like stars

across the darkness of my body. It might be beautiful,

some kind of efflorescence, expansion of the universe toward what

conclusion? No one knows. And expanding into what? Beyond

the boundaries of my body, the universe itself keeps going, takes

me with it on immortal cancer cells. They live forever, we don’t.

Dad, I’m reading A Hundred Years of Solitude in Spanish.

It’s a beautiful book, another immortality, how odd that words

might be so, these texts between us quick and lost as spoken words

we never quite remember as they’re said. On auto-correct,

the ordinary becomes absurd, you mean auto-connecticut?

Yes, exactly. Pretty funny, dad. Is Caroline coming to pick you up?

She comes but they miss their connection, he mellowing in the sun,

she searching the hospital frantic that he might have suffered

an accident. As it often does, the cancer breaks them in two,

her anger, his guilt, toxins tending their deadened desire.

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