‘My Father’s Frontal Lobe’

Victoria Chang’s Obit, which was inspired by the death of her mother, frames grieving as a part of life.

victoria chang, obit
Margaret Molloy

From Obit: Poems

My Father’s Frontal Lobe—died
unpeacefully of a stroke on June 24,
2009 at Scripps Memorial Hospital in
San Diego, California. Born January
20, 1940, the frontal lobe enjoyed a
good life. The frontal lobe loved being
the boss. It tried to talk again but
someone put a bag over it. When the
frontal lobe died, it sucked in its lips like
a window pulled shut. At the funeral
for his words, my father wouldn’t stop
talking and his love passed through
me, fell onto the ground that wasn’t
there. I could hear someone stomping
their feet. The body is as confusing as
language—was the frontal lobe having
a tantrum or dancing? When I took
my father’s phone away, his words
died in the plastic coffin. At the funeral
for his words, we argued about my
miscarriage. It’s not really a baby, he
said. I ran out of words, stomped out to
shake the dead baby awake. I thought
of the tech who put the wand down,
quietly left the room when she couldn’t
find the heartbeat. I understood then
that darkness is falling without an end.
That darkness is not the absorption of
color but the absorption of language.

Excerpted from Obit: Poems, by Victoria Chang, copyright © 2020 by Victoria Chang, reprinted with the permission of the Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, coppercanyonpress.org.

Copper Canyon Press

Obit, by Victoria Chang

Copper Canyon Press Bookshop.org

Victoria Chang is the author of Barbie Chang, The Boss, Salvinia Molesta, and Circle.
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