A Jackal in the Woods
My grandfather died and everything went to shit. He drowned on lung fluid in a Spartanburg County hospice house that overlooked a field dotted with black cows. The sunrise wasn’t anything special over there, just a smudge of yellow clouds, and the roads were full of bread and ice cream trucks running deliveries to the little failing grocery stores. Sometimes dogs chased the sweet smells of Bunny Bread and push-pops, then ended up run-over and whimpering on the shoulder, wet eyes shining from a distance until life faded and they didn’t shine anymore. Vultures picked what they wanted. So did insects, coyotes. An act as simple as a young boy cutting the grass would make the world smell fresh and new again, but before that, a stink would ride the wind for days, a stink attracting the most cunning and ugly creatures of the land. My grandfather loved ice cream.
His body was driven to Greenville, a thirty-minute ride, where it was incinerated and poured into a small brass canister. At the funeral service, I sweated through my bra, underwear, and black dress in that hundred-year-old Episcopal church, which creaked and moaned in the July heat. It seemed indecent for anyone to see my bra straps, so I wore a thin sweater that only furthered my discomfort. Beads formed at