He decides with the precision and patience to face climb Shawangunk Mountain, doctors are no use to him. He holds his body in the stone house he bought thirty years ago on a half-fan of acreage in the shadow of dolostone. He lets the septic clog, pisses in bottles, shits in enamel camp pans, unplugs space heater/lights. His wish: to be absorbed like water into a rock’s porosity, its void space, as a fisherman might yearn to die at sea. Instead, he folds onto the hollowed mattress like fleshed origami under a quarter-sized cleft in the yellow stained glass pane and wanders out to his future ghost: one day into one day next day one next. Sister calls, sister calls. He does not answer. The phone dies on the filthy kitchen counter. She tells 9-1-1, I am a thousand miles away and whispers her concern like a confession. State police find him beneath suspended metal twigs and feathers. Coroner identifies cause, names the disease her sibling never sought. I am sorry for your loss, he says. She arrives from out west, tours his house like a docent. In the metallurgic workshop there are antique tools delicate as rachises he used to craft iron mobiles shaped like bookmarks as if to hold a place in air. She runs her fingers along the rope, belay, harnesses, carabiners, cams that hang on hooks along the length of wall, gear of the snowdrift ease of climbs and descents. Some things go in boxes, some in fifty-five gallon sacks. The funeral home director hands her the urn to take on the plane in its shopping bag. Ashes make it easier, she thinks. Less to plan/do. A good decision. She says she may return to scatter them here in Ulster County, stows them overhead, glances over the wing, braces for takeoff, and wonders at the risk of slowness.
H.E. Fisher is pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at City College of New York. Her poems and lyrical prose have appeared or are forthcoming in The Rumpus, Tiny Flames Press, JMWW, The Hopper, Hip Mama, Centennial’s Female Mind issue, among other publications. She is the 2019 recipient of The Stark Poetry Prize in Memory of Raymond Patterson. Helene lives in Rockland County, New York.