Saturday 26 June 2021

'As the Hearse Comes' by Eleonora Balsano

There’s a fish-shaped pen in my father’s brush pot.

Short and slender, with silver and gold scales that change colour in the sunlight, and large, dumb glass eyes.

I pick it up with two fingers and squeeze hard its metallic head. I expect water to sprinkle out of it, maybe wet my lips. I assume he’s walking beside me, with the catch of the day in his arms.

Come look, he’d say, it’s still moving.

I never turned, I never looked. I don’t like death, I’d say, pushing him away.

Now I imagine the sharp taste of salt, dripping out of a living thing. A freshly killed octopus, its head smashed against a rock.

I want to write a note to slip in a pocket of the suit he’s going to wear forever. I scribble and shake the fish-shaped pen but it won’t glide.

It’s dried up, as the blood in my father’s veins.

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