When someone dies all of a sudden
their life flashes before their eyes all at once,
but when the doctor tells you
you have 7 months to live,
you can take your time
and watch your life like a movie.
I’ve never seen my life flash before my eyes
but yours did once
when dad showed me your home movies,
your memories, that had snuck out of your head
and into the boxes in the attic.
As I watched your life
I imagined you watching your life
I imagined you sitting up in your bed at night
and turning on the television to watch the
life that was leaving you.
Here’s the part where you’ve just been born
right after the opening credits
Your parents are the executive producers
and God is the director.
Hear your sepia-toned cries
see the vinyl of your skin
feel the wooden stare of your father.
Here’s the part where all twelve of your
ol’ country siblings are wrestling over
corn cobs at the long plaid dinner table.
You’re brown as a shovel from working
Here’s the part where you and mamaw
are getting married in that old
brick church in Yadkinville.
Your smile is a downpour of stubborn love
and her smile is a stained-glass umbrella.
Here’s the part where your first son is being born
red and glowing, like coals.
You’ve finally become an executive producer
and your pride weighs too much for your eyes
and it presses itself into tears
that are now swinging from your brow
like plastic mobiles
that you’ll hang over his crib.
Here’s the part where you’re building that church
with your bare hands
and here’s the part where my father is dancing
on your lap.
Now I’m sitting on your lap
my hands on the tractor steering wheel
your hands on mine.
The wind is running its fingers
through the tall grass
like you used to do with your hair.
Seth is standing at the top of the yard
waving his hand, screaming “Me next! Me next!”
And the grass is waving its hands and
screaming “Me next! Me next!”
Here’s the part where you somehow fit both of us
on your lap
and we cut the hell out of that grass
even with all those hands on that wheel.
Now here’s the part where your hands
won’t work anymore
when your fingers won’t turn the keys
or grip the shovel
or run through your hair.
And the doctor is telling you
that you get to watch your life come at you
slowly, then through you, then past you.
Here’s the part where your sons love you
but they have to put in the nursing home,
because there’s just nothing else they can do.
here’s the part where you fall asleep
in front of the television
the scenes still skipping by
the colors and people
bouncing off your glasses.