We Do Not Like January On January 22nd we eat cake and sing happy birthday and visit the graveyard to drench the soil with warmed thyme infused olive oil. It seeps through your shoebox casket falling through the cleft of your lip, almost brother. We do this nearly every year, the six of us, our embalming ceremony. Because it is January 22nd, and the Ottawa night is pregnant with despair, shards of glass hit our faces, making mom’s numb to its wetness. A gust of wind causes my jaw to dislocate for a brief moment until dad smacks it back into place. A few rows down is her in the muck of 2007 formerly blonde hair grown back strawberry, curled. It’s declined sleepovers because friends do not die at ten. It’s January 17th and the totality of the fifth grade and it's me living at twenty-four. Back to you, almost brother as we approach the dénouement of our embalming ceremony. The oil keeps the soil within which you are enveloped, malleable. We refuse to let the ground around your shoebox casket freeze on January 22nd. Thyme-time-pungently-punchingly-fragrant-fragmented the sprigs get picked up by the wind get blown up my nose achoo thyme gets caught in my nasal cavity a perennial itch. Making our way back to the car, I take a final glance at your tombstone, almost brother. The engraving of your short biblical name, the singular date of your birth and death, shine forth. As does the emptiness below your name enough emptiness for two.
© Julia Aguiar