Sunday Stew: One Last Poem For Cath

by Alex Gallo-Brown

When I was young,
I would fly over whole states
to stay up late with you watching
old films while your neighbors
slept only a few feet away.
We had to be so quiet
we wore headphones
and chewed our chocolates

Daytime was McDonald’s drive-thru
for chicken nuggets and Diet Coke
or the Jewish deli down the street
for pickles and pastrami sandwiches
or the Back to the Future ride at Disneyland
while you snapped shots
of the movie billboards.
Cath-land—the land of Cath.
A good place to visit
for a while.

When we stopped talking,
the wind-up toys that accompanied
your Happy Meals in 1986
lost their ability to sing.
They asked for a lozenge,
settled for the chocolates you kept
on your nightstand instead.

When my brother and I
speak of your apartment,
he calls it a museum
we should preserve
for the people
who come next.
But I am not reverent of the objects
with which you have treated
so much care.
VHS tapes and
framed photographs.
Old toys and
ancient cameras.
Rare prints and
developed film.

Your apartment a museum
my mind preserves for
the years I have left.
But I am not envious of the objects
to which you have committed
so much life.
The world will forget them
as it forgets all of us,
and we, the people
you live inside,
will carry on pretending
you are gone.

Alex Gallo-Brown is a poet, fiction writer, and essayist based in Seattle. He is the author of The Language of Grief (2012), a self-published collection of poems, and Variations of Labor (Chin Music Press, 2019), a collection of poems and stories. Called “the poet of the service economy” by author and critic Valerie Trueblood, he has been awarded the Barry Lopez Fellowship from Seattle’s Hugo House, the Walthall Fellowship from Atlanta’s WonderRoot, and the Emerging Artist Award from the City of Atlanta. He holds degrees in writing from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and Georgia State University in Atlanta. He lives in the Beacon Hill neighborhood. 

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