him up, she found him outside. He was laid flat out on the wood-pile, in a black felt suit. He had shaved, and combed his hair, and put his spectacles into the front pocket, and had on wingtip shoes. He was stone-dead.

I shivered, and contemplated the relaxing of the veil between the living and the dead as your final hour approached. Getting older, I find the knowing of your death far less mysterious, less supernatural.



II. Dad built our house after I was born.



I remember “helping” him hammer in the wide-planked floorboards on the first story over the basement. There was a dark rectangle of empty space where the stairs leading into the basement were to go. The house was earth-bermed, which kept the sleeping quarters warmer in the winter, and cooler in the summer. The wood was everywhere blond and bright. Then we painted the floorboards a creamy white. But it's amazing how quickly things begin to feel old. I had a room on the west side of our house, where it nestled into a darkness of forty-foot pines my grandfather had planted as a Christmas-tree farm before he ran away to Bermuda. My parents’ room had windows to the sunrise. We were separated by the hallway, which opened to the basement, which pulled down the cool air from your skin and made your hair stand on end.

My cast-iron bed was lacquered periwinkle, and lived at the far north end of the house. For a while my doorway had no door in it. I had pajamas with moons on them, gibbous, crescent, full. The wall cast out an arm my dresser stood against with a lamp on it that I had to get out of bed to reach. It formed a cubby, like an antechamber to the rest of my room.