Photo of My Dead Son, Taken At The DMV
My son’s photo lives on my computer desktop. In it, he stands at the counter of the DMV, redeems himself from too many tickets, pays the fine, receives a second chance. I can tell he’s learned his lesson, the way he stares into the camera, head in hand, a satisfied look on his face. Like the cat who ate the canary, my mother would say. Death, lurking inside my boy, has yet to make an appearance. He looks immortal. Whenever the photo catches my eye my throat tightens, his face atouchstone. A grief-filled pit. Reduced to a thumbnail, one of a hundred on the screen, my son fights for air. I want to click on his face, open him wide to life, but he would drown in my sorrow if not already dead. Yesterday, K’s son, diagnosed with an AVM at 21. Tests, she writes, dozens of tests. Her boy, acting like a trooper. I can see she’s still in that hopeful phase; reality hasn’t yet sunk in. I want to tell her about another friend’s sweet boy, who died of the same, cruel flaw, the same ticking time bomb in his head, but I don’t; I can’t. Instead, I lie awake, night after night, knowing what grief, too, lies in wait, but I can’t save her son. Last night when I finally drifted off, my dead boy covered me with his yellow baby blanket.
Sleep now, mama, he said.
Alexis Rhone Fancher
This poem first appeared in Paterson Literary Review, and was also published in THE DEAD KID POEMS, (KYSO Flash Press, 2019).
Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry, Rattle, Poetry East, Hobart, VerseDaily, American Journal of Poetry, Duende, Plume, Diode, Pedestal Magazine, Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles, and elsewhere. She’s authored five published poetry collections, most recently, Junkie Wife (Moon Tide Press, 2018), and The Dead Kid Poems (KYSO Flash Press, 2019). EROTIC: New & Selected, from New York Quarterly, and another full-length collection (in Italian) by Edizioni Ensemble, Italia, will both be published in early 2021. Her photographs are published worldwide, including River Styx, and the covers of Pithead Chapel, Heyday and Witness. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. www.alexisrhonefancher.com
The Ekphrastic Review
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