Saturday, 6 June 2020

'A Test' by D. Brody Lipton


1) Your father has died. Do you
  1. in a daze, and so without knowing why, shake hands with each of the gravediggers waiting nearby, mumbling to one another in Spanish, while the young rabbi, warbling with her eyes closed, leads everyone else in prayer, their frozen breath collected and carried off by the punishing Chicago wind
  2. slather cream cheese and pile onion on a bagel at your aunt’s house and then, seated between your sisters, wolf it down with boozy abandon, but then later resent the rabbi for also eating a bagel, believing she ought to be too solemn, too full of Talmudic wisdom to consume anything else
  3. talk to your father’s college buddies and work friends, eagerly listening to and immediately forgetting their fond stories of the man they all adored, including some important wisdom about the nature of love and loss from a guy named Jeff whose eyes are shining 
  4. ask the rabbi if there’s an afterlife and feel aching pride for the ambivalence of your father’s ancient religion when she answers, “Sure, if you want.”
  5. get a ride home from your father’s childhood friend, nodding while she recounts how at her own mother’s funeral she had leapt screaming into the open grave, clutched the coffin, and had to be yanked out by who-even-the-fuck-knows 
  6. on a Sunday months later, when the liquor stores are closed, smash sticks against the back of the garage for several minutes, then come inside, bandage your bleeding finger, and recall how readily the gravediggers had each removed their work gloves, as though shaking hands with the sons of dead fathers was something they did every day 

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