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July 2016, vol 12 no 2

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Glenn G. Coats

A Desire to Endure


Autumn. I am at North Carolina State and my sister is at the University of Virginia. It is a thirteen-hour drive to New Jersey. My parents tell us both to stay put, not to come home for the viewing. “Everyone will understand,” my mother says. “Your education is the important thing.”

I can’t concentrate in class; keep thinking about my grandmother, with her broom, dust rising from the steps. Cooking, the air saturated with the smell of turkey and dressing.

It’s already dark when I carry my sister’s suitcase out to my car. Her eyes are bruised from crying. By the time we cross the Potomac, it is pouring so hard that highway lines are invisible. Big trucks bury us in waves of water. I can’t hear my sister’s voice.

The sky clears when we reach the Lehigh Valley. “Is that what happens?” my sister asks. “You’re swallowed up in a storm, everything turns black, and then you slowly start to move your arms and legs like swimming or flying, up toward a few lights. They might be stars.”

funeral footsteps
the darkness of crows
on the old oak


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