A tornado went through a cemetery and toppled only the gravestones of Confederate soldiers.
During the winter, after a snowstorm, my father took me and the rest of the boy scout troop to shovel pathways.
Under the snow, it was so icy that I could stand on a shovel, and one of my friends could push me hard and let go of the shovel, leaving me to surf on it and to skid fast down a patch we had cleared, the handle of the shovel clanking. My father said that’s no way to behave around graves.
For Veterans Day, my father had us put flags on the soldiers’ graves, even those of the Confederates. Afterward, in a small shack on the cemetery’s grounds, he made us pancakes on a hotplate.
“These are the worst I’ve ever had,” one of my friends said to me. This friend had a caved-in chest. Last year on a camping trip, as a joke, we had woken him up by putting Corn Pops and cold milk in his cavity.
“But they have chocolate chips inside,” I said.
We don’t know what the meeting had been for, but there are still men standing around, holding coffee cups and sipping from them.
When I sniffed my father’s head, I smelled unwashed scalp. His hair was yellowy white – and very thick – so it reminded me of crab meat.
My father has us put away metal folding chairs after a meeting. We do not know what the meeting had been for, but there are still men standing around after it, holding coffee cups and sipping from them. The ass-shaped dents in the chairs, meant for comfort, are still warm, and we laugh when we touch their warmth.
Before my father had me, he said he was once lying in a boat on a river, looking up at clouds. One of the clouds was very low and had black wrestling shapes in it.
“One shape was me,” he said, “and I didn’t know it at the time, but the other shape was you.”