A Mailman Remembers the Dead

The dead are remembered as they are forgotten because it is the rememberers, after all, who are dying too. I count myself as one of them. What I mean is that when you die people will remember you, but when they die you will be truly gone. It happens. Almost all traces of an individual vanish over a couple of generations. People stop marking your grave pretty quickly. Long ago somewhere I read cemeteries run out of space and they start stacking the coffins one atop another like automobiles in a multistory parking garage. How would you like to spend eternity staring at the back of someone else’s skull? The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out… No thanks. Like many, I prefer to have my ashes scattered. I certainly don’t want to be embalmed which has always seemed to me a ghoulish and gross practice.

I’m sorry my thoughts have turned so morbid. We got a lot of snow this year in Minnesota. It is melting ever so slowly. At least the sidewalks are now mostly free of ice. This is a timeless process that repeats itself, like the loons passing through the Metro as the lakes finally open around Easter.

Dead flowers emerge a drab depressing brown from this snowbank at 5th Avenue and 7th Street—a memorial to Abdoulaye Cisse, a murder victim I wrote about just before the pandemic. His killer was never apprehended or charged. It is a mystery, but like so many other mysteries, not a mystery at all . . . just an everyday occurrence in a major American city. Someone was breaking into cars at dawn and Abdoulaye had just gone out for a jog. He confronted the criminal and ended up stabbed and bleeding to death at the spot I park my postal vehicle every day.

People associate budding tulips and daffodils with Spring. But here, in the middle of a metropolis, early Spring looks more like cancer.

The tulips will come up eventually, but not in the neighborhood where I deliver mail. All I see here is endless piles of cigarette butts and avocados half-devoured by squirrels. But there is beauty in that too.

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