New York City, New York, United States
|The Suicide by Édouard Manet 1877–1881|
Browsing the obituaries over Sunday brunch —
one never knows what nugget one may find,
a former grade school teacher or some biddy
from one’s mother’s mahjongg klatch — I stumble
upon the wedded name of the girl I’d hoped
to marry at twenty-five, when I was twelve.
That did not happen. Fate proved a flimsy rod,
easily fractured across the knee of time.
Suicide. A rope, a chair, a kick of rage
or resignation. Who can say? And what
is to be written to her father, who once,
in those inchoate years, bestowed his kindness
on an awkward kid flouted by his daughter?
Surely not that had she loved this inept boy,
rather than the dashing lad who left her hard
and hard up, with crow’s feet and stretch marks,
with daughters of her own, then all that followed
might have been eluded. Our grief is unshared.
He could yet — even now — sire more daughters.
Never can I charm the girl I loved at twelve.
JACOB M. APPEL, MD, JD, MPH, MFA, is the author of three literary novels, seven short story collections, an essay collection, a cozy mystery and a thriller. His first novel, The Man Who Wouldn’t Stand Up, won the 2012 Dundee International Book Award and was published by Cargo. His short fiction collection, Scouting for the Reaper, won the 2012 Hudson Prize and was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2014. He is also the author of more than two hundred published short stories. Jacob currently teaches at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and serves as an attending physician at Mount Sinai Hospital. More at www.jacobmappel.com.