by Jordan Potter
When the grief counselor first heard
he was dying, he thought of Darwin—
not barefoot in the Galapagos,
kneeling among manic finches,
but recanting on his death bed
in dreamy fear of God.
What would he have told him?
The same sanitized doublespeak
he’d given that eight-year-old
when her parents splattered
on a Coke truck? Write a letter
to each of them. Tell them your secret.
Now it was his turn to write letters.
Sitting down, he felt repulsed
at the patrician font of his name
in the corner of the stationary,
the two capital Ks laughing like money.
Should he charge himself his normal rate?
He thought of B———, whose father
shot himself in the front yard.
That wasn’t your father. He was sick,
but not your father. Your father loved you.
She must be in her thirties now, thinking
of the end of the world like everyone else.
And was this bargaining, denial, or rage
he felt soaking his chest? Darwin.
Why couldn’t he have held on,
doubling down last minute on his conviction,
ready to face the truth because he knew
the truth? Dear Aidan, I love you. I’m writing
to say…No. It’s foolish to think it works,
this pretending. He stared outside
as two beautiful girls launched an electric bike
off a speed bump, like the ones he’d driven over
to deliberately rattle his mother’s
stomach cancer. Should he include that?
Should he mention the two women
he’d loved behind his wife’s back?
Or the sex he had with his own cousin?
So this was dying. Every mistake
at the forefront of one’s life.
Every ego-reminding desire
faithfully restored to its factory setting.
All the data in the world could not dispel
Darwin’s nuclear doubt. That ancient
afterthought of crucifixion now making sense,
what could he possibly tell himself?
His next appointment started at 3.
Jordan Potter is an actor and writer from Huntington Beach, CA.