Mallory Tater

He Wanted Them Donated to Western Institute

The nurse places Grandpa’s hearing aids in my lap.
I’m still holding his blue hand.
My sister won’t touch him.
The nurse leaves to buy chicken, rice and fruit
before the cafeteria closes. I’ll always feel terrible
that I laughed when she spoke of the soul
leaving a body, how that takes awhile, the reason why
his breath rattled. I picture his body
on Cypress Mountain, a view he craved,
could never afford. His ghost-hands wet
with melting snow. His swollen shadow
clouding quiet people who never knew him.
He always told me I didn’t know war.
I knew I didn’t. I know I don’t. The bombing
of his home in Hanau, the tire-swing
where he’d breathe and read,
rubbled and stinking, enough to lift
childhood from his body.
He’s at peace, the nurse says.
She smells of garlic. I hate listening
to people holding clipboards.
My sister and I leave when we are told.
We drive Columbia Street, count bridal shops,
cross the damp Pattullo Bridge.
We subtract the river. Divide it by grief.
Hearing aids in my hand.
They beep twice. They’re warm with wax.
They beep twice. Their stems are cold.
I press one against my left ear, exhale
until I don’t exist. We don’t exist.

Mallory Tater is a writer from the traditional, unceded territories of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg Nation (Ottawa). Mallory's poetry & fiction have been published in literary magazines across Canada such as Room, CV2, The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, The New Quarterly, Carousel, Prism International and Arc Magazine. She was shortlisted for Arc Magazine's 2015 Poem of The Year Contest, The Malahat Review’s 2016 Far Horizon’s Contest and Room Magazine’s 2016 Fiction and Poetry Prizes. She was the recipient of CV2’s 2016 Young Buck Poetry Prize and is the publisher of Rahila's Ghost Press, a poetry chapbook press slated to release their first print run Fall 2017. @malatonin