“Today She Bought the Hideous Tie They Will Bury Me In” by Patrick Carrington

Patrick Carrington


My wife and I changed our minds today, began
buying Christmas presents again
for people over 4 feet tall. The contemplation
of death moved us out of that stony-hearted

town. I even sprung for a nativity set and snow globe
of angels for my in-laws from hell.
That got me fully in the spirit. When she thought
I wasn’t looking, she snuck a red and green tie

into her shopping bag, a neckful of striped ugly.
Horrified that someone would do that to silk,
I, nevertheless, promised myself I’d never give it away
in a box to be passed from one sucker

to the next, as if it were new. It will be mine forever,
seen again only when there’s but one reason
to let it clash with a navy blazer,
when it’s a-okay for dressing to resemble

a disease. But now, in her arms as she sleeps,
this healthy silence is all I want—I don’t want
to talk anymore about who’s not
here, who may be seeing their last holiday

or how my dad’s looking dangerously thin,
how the fork in my mother’s hand trembled
at Thanksgiving. I don’t want to think about
how everyone always seems to be going

away. I just want to lie here. I want, like everyone,
to be held. To be, to be still
yet alive, not getting used to a paler set
of colors, a wired smile, eyes like holes

poked into a snowbank. I don’t want to picture
myself among the usual fuss
of flowers and small talk that prove
one more man was ordinary and nobody

cares, among the living who verify you’re not
just by being there, who rush past
your folded hands toward the next random touch,
a future where maybe somebody waits.

from Rattle #31, Summer 2009

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