John Gallaher


We All Want the Same Things

I have to take care of myself. It might not be the first thought
that comes to you when your parents die, but at some point
we all get there. And in a more direct way, when people you know
but don’t know well die. It’s different from a celebrity death
where it’s oddly OK to act as if they were a lover,
to wander the house is a daze of your youth, it’s closer
and more distant, which you almost want to say to someone,
but it feels more honest than you mean, so it’s an afternoon
practicing saying “I knew Jeff slightly—I didn’t know him
well, but . . .” to various blank funeral goers. The world
will be no worse or better now, and I will have forgotten
by next month—“hey, where did that guy go?” “Oh, Jeff,
right. He died.” But now, today, it’s the only death
there is, as every death, as every sunset through a porch
window overlooking the lake in spring or fall or winter,
summer. In the book of catastrophic miracles, you step out
onto that porch. He had kind of light hair. Reddish.
Younger than me. And he could really be a dick
sometimes. Don’t romanticize it. And yet, when, after
the funeral, we went to this lunch catered by the Ladies
Auxiliary, there were these little cherry cheesecakes,
and I don’t think I’ve ever tasted something so beautiful.


JOHN GALLAHER‘s most recent collection is In a Landscape (BOA 2014). His forthcoming book is Brand New Spacesuit (BOA 2020). He lives in rural MO and co-edits The Laurel Review.