By: Danielle Vermette
When my father was dying, he said a lot of funny things that he didn’t know were funny In the final stand, as a blue trail of cold began to climb his legs, “I will miss you,” he said, “but I have to go to Canada now.” It has been almost a year since he made that trip and my hands are hell-bent on reminding me this morning that I, too, will die. They reach of their own accord for his hairbrush, one of the few items I kept. Not satisfied with the fading scent of that, though it pleases me to see fragile gray wisps still tucked in the bristles, I reach for his hats that I keep on my dresser. They are called flat caps or scally caps or hooligan caps or driver caps and he wore one every place he went. They do still smell of him and look pathetic there, zapped of all necessity. do possessions ever forget? At least they sit, one on top of the other, able to console each other, or maybe they retain enough gumption from sitting atop that ornery head of his that they are happy in retirement. I take a long deep inhale, they smell of musty smoke and a hint of disuse and suddenly, for once, I know just where I want to be.
Danielle Vermette is an actor, a freelance writer and a dog walker living in the Pacific Northwest. She wrote and directed her first play, 'Dear Marna' which opened at Imago Theatre in January, 2019. She studied in the Portland State MFA fiction program and was a finalist (and the Oregon winner) of the 2012 Wordstock fiction contest. She writes regularly for Oregon ArtsWatch and occasionally reviews poetry for the Oregonian. "I wore one of these hats to my father’s viewing, and my sister-in-law insisted that I place it upon his head before leaving his body for the final time. I refused. I couldn’t imagine parting with it. I felt fiercely protective of that hat. Here I stood, looking at a body that didn’t resemble my father in the least. But this HAT….its whole purpose was my father. It smelled like him. No way could I leave it to the crematory. Anais Nin once wrote, “something is always born of excess.” I think this poem comes from a place -- not necessarily of excess grief -- but an excess of that listlessness that seemed to accompany me following his death. I really believe when we lose someone, the heart never stops searching for them, and the hands, by extension, tend to do fidgety, unbidden things -- like reaching for objects of their own accord."