Mourning — Landscape

By Mo Fowler

We’ve come to Des Moines for the funeral. Fitting
place: I’ve driven through every time I was leaving home to live
somewhere new. A world without you. It is quiet
and just three of us remain

after the ceremony. We drink
beer in the motel room, the boys sitting on the end of the bed
and my back numbing against the bathroom doorway.
We toss the empty cans into the bathtub and the metal,

each time, catches the light in a way that glints
through the room. I remember the sculpture
in Chicago, years ago. Candy in gold wrappers
flash in the white gallery’s fluorescence, fill wherever

they’re poured into. A memorial,
though no one walking by would know it.
The museum label said there is always
sweat in-between the pieces. Even when we finish

every can, I know they will not amount
to anything — still I want to tell the boys
how this metal is almost gold like that — how much
money museums will pay to help us remember one

another, to be able to say that they did. Museums you’d have hit
me upside the head for mentioning. When the boys have gone
to bed I climb into the bathtub to hold you tightly, pull
the shower curtain off a handful of its hooks

on my way down. It slowly sways, a flag
at half mast in the green dark. A crack of cans
beneath my weight. I lay my forehead
on the dewy metal. I am noticing everything

just like how you would. I am watching
in the night. Next to the sink is a hand towel stained
by the leftover rotisserie chicken from the funeral,
some pieces of it spat from damp mouths

onto the cans. The meat — and me — a mess atop this aluminum
spectacle. In dim light, I lift myself onto the toilet seat
and look down at the shape of my body
in the middle of this memorial for you:

why should memorials be permanent — so people can come
mourn you forever? There is no one else
remembering the person I knew.
The two of them are asleep in what

streetlight draws through the shut blinds. For you,
I watch their figures tuck into one another. How an arm
sticky with beer, shifts over a hip apparent only in its bright
crescent of skin. Natural, natural,

like love is a thing bodies do.

Headshot of Mo Fowler

Mo Fowler is an MFA candidate at UC Irvine and the author of the chapbook Sit Wild (Finishing Line Press, 2021). Their writing is forthcoming in The Minnesota Review and The Hopkins Review, and can be found in Snaggletooth Magazine, Rough Cut Press, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere

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