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Sealing Woodrow

My parents visit me in Salt Lake City
and we go let the Mormons tell us who
we are, or who we've been. Museum
of names of the dead they keep: the Granite
Mountain Record Vault, huge caves with Mosler doors.
The missionaries are adorable, girls from Argentina,
Brazil. I say they're welcome to baptize our dead
once we figure out who they are. I think I'm really
funny. I think it's a myth, a stereotype: matzoh
made with Christian blood, Muslims blowing
stuff up. But no—one thanks me, reassures me
the dead have agency, that nobody can force
you, dead or alive, to believe anything you don't.
Our dead can decide; she'll just give them a chance.
Later, when my dad gives me crap for pimping my
forefathers out, I see a pair of earnest, suited angels
on bikes, missionaries knocking on my
grandpa Woodrow's cloud. They wake him up.
What I remember most of my grandfather: him
saying pipe down, telling me go cut a switch.
He was kidding. Hey, Gonka: here's what you get.
Eternal pitch, days of scripture, winged
boys on bikes waving their golden plates and saying
our family will be sealed together forever. Forever:
he could barely stand me during halftime, little me
dancing in the smoke from his Salems by his scratchy
La-Z-Boy, thumb in a hollow of cheek. They'll preach
till he gets the picture, knows the truth: I became
the pain in the ass he always knew I'd be, there's
an afterlife, he's in it, and I'm thinking of him.

Jill McDonough

Hanging Loose


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