Aubade: Divorce
Rachel Hammond

You were struck by lightning twice. Once, in the hollow of a tree. The other time in 1989 at a Dead show in Vegas. Six other people were leaning on the RV when it turned out there was a thunderstorm behind the dust cloud. How you found out was the RV got struck by lightning. One of the six died a couple months later. He was a good friend. He said, I’ve got a liquid spine and sponge for bones, and then he died. Probably light leftover pushed his cells apart, trying to get back to the sky. All the earth is a living thing. Well, half-alive, you like to say. You like to say this to girls in their twenties, after handing them a piece of quartz you found in Idaho. Up on Cub Peak, you tell them, is where I found this. Just don’t go where the signs say Don’t go. So you tell them, Quartz is a stone flower. And, The earth is half-alive. What’s alive is the half that you are, receiving it. Your past is well-lit now. The recent past. You can’t remember the song that was playing when you got struck by lightning the second time. You’re getting a divorce. That’s why you came to Montana. That’s what you say.

Your name is Tony. You tell this story about how you were alive when your mom died. Pills. She killed herself. Your parents, back home, you tell how they’d stolen a bunch of money from a non-profit with something to do with the early days of computers, and basically with this jacked cash they bought a limousine that you and your buddies would drive around the dirt roads in fuck-off New Hampshire for hours on weeknights. You tell about the time you and your buddies were out in that limo and you all thought something up there might be a UFO, you were all on whippets, and how you called it in to the cops and some TV people came later that week, showing up at your house, and of course you and your buddies were all high, high as the Georgia pines, you say, and when the TV people told you to reenact the scene, from with the UFO, you couldn’t stop shouting and cursing, Shit! We saw a fucking UFO! You were practically crying. How they kept telling you to tone it down and that’s how you got your nickname, Tone. Yeah, that’s how they started calling you Tone. After your mom died it was Tombstone. Anyway, that’s how the cops found the limo. Then the TV people came. Then she died. Your dad got sick in prison and told you all about cancer and you never told him anything.

When you were a kid your dream was to one day live in Canada. Your son calls his camera his DSLR. He had a girlfriend for a while who had one dread lock. He calls himself a futurist. He has at least two t-shirts with a picture of that comedian Bill Murray. You remember saying to your wife when you first started dating, when everything was still trying and the light was in the sky where it belonged, you said, You’d love it inside my apartment. And she said, You’d love it inside of a river. And then your son was born. Misplaced attempts at absolution, though you loved him. It was harder to think less of her. Too much like thinking more of yourself. But all the patient flowers. Cheers. They’re counting on ya. And that it still might happen, that you might get struck again, is a slow metastasizing of the real, as out into a future where you forget having met her and can be killed by something new, the now. And here you are, bathed, getting up today like the sun will do every day but one. You think you might call your son. As soon as you get off this stool. You’re gonna call him. Ya know, when you look in the mirror and picture yourself at the age he is now, back in New Hampshire, back outside the limo laughing at the sky with BJ and Little John and Jason, you look and you say, out loud, you say, I miss you. You say, Though I never much liked you. And you frequently stole from me.

Rachel Hammond is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Montana.