You and your mother sit on the futon and watch Twelve Angry Men*. She tells you she has been looking forward to this. Lately, you have taken to dipping your apples in boiling water to get the wax off.
This is how to spend a day: read articles on climate change and suicide / walk / go back to bed with your shoes on.
You must not write about a pet or its death. Least of all, your beagle bleeding out all over the snowy lawn. This is the new banal. Consider writing about your mother—her saving up to buy the ashes back from the vet. And how they came in a little wooden box. And how she keeps them in the kitchen. The image: your mother sitting at the kitchen table beside the dog’s ashes on a bookshelf. Years have passed.
In writing about the cat, which you found in the azalea bush one winter, do not even mention that he is orange. Attend only to the shuffling that followed his arrival—the exchange student moving out, then your father, then your brother, and the next brother. And through it all the cat was there, killing things. This is compelling.
This is what iodine smells like. This is Dr. Hines. This is the sedation consent form. This is a suture, and this is a staple, and this is why you can’t do it yourself. This one means running away; this one means fighting back; this one doesn’t mean either but here is how you check for inflammation. This is how you work in the garden without straying too far from her open bedroom window. There is pain enough in being bedridden in June,** but this is what they mean by drain; and what they mean by abscess; and what they mean by—
There are twelve feet between your house and the neighbor’s. And out there is the blooming dogwood, and the slat lines on the aluminum siding that you have, since childhood, found so beautiful and plain.
* You are only watching for the scene in which one angry man shouts at another, “You can’t handle the truth”; you are disappointed to discover that happens in another movie about men (A Few Good Men).
** [or housebound in May when the baby birds are falling from their nests]