Stench

My best friend, Mark,
blew his brains out.
I said so
in a newspaper article.
A lady objected
to my tabloid phrase
in a letter
to the editor.
She thought
I was being insensitive
to Mark's pain.

I wasn't.

I was responding
to mine.
He blew
his brains out,
for chistsake.

II.
Mark's pain
did not switch off
like a light.
It did not crash
like a hard drive;
it did not slide
into another consciousness;
or embrace the oneness
of creation.
It was blasted
and scattered
and splattered
and left on the floor
and walls
and ceilings
for us to sanitize
whether we were there
or not.

His head in shards,
his fingers pasty.
Still. 

I hear
an echo
of his laugh
whenever I look
at a picture
of Mark smiling
with my children.
It's boisterous
and raw,
outshouting
his misery.

III
I saw a movie 
about two sisters
who clean up after suicides.
It was a comedy
with contrived acts
of misdeed and redemption.
Death was the red 
of smeared blood,
not the fungal white
of decayed flesh, 
and bodies disappeared
lest they appall us
with the angles
of sudden death
and the lingering
smell of rot.

IV
Louise and I
saw a raccoon
on its back 
on the Rowley's Bridge Trail.
Teeth bared, 
anus agape,
swarmed by flies and
crawled by maggots
who must not
find the stink odious;
who, I guess,
are attracted by it,
and therefore
play their part.

I asked Louise 
if I should call the authorities.
"They're not
going to give it
a special ceremony,
you know,"
she said.

So I came back
with my shovel
and a mask
to dispose of it
the same way
the authorities would.
I jimmied it
onto the blade
and threw it 
over the bank
towards the river,
away from the path
of dog walkers
and nature lovers
who needn't see it.

I watched the maggots
left behind
squirming aimlessly
in the dirt
and thought about Mark
underneath
their flailing fury.
I thought I
should squish them
or bury them
or at least
brush them
off the path
and then I realized
they would soon be gone
with nothing left
to nourish them.

But some things
never leave.
They get caught
in your brain
like the stench
that pervaded
my mask today
and nests
in my sinuses
and plays its part
in reminding me
that death
should
repel us.

    Copyright © 2006 - 2017 Thom Forbes, all rights reserved.