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My Uncle Phil Has Died

My Uncle Phil has died.

He of the calloused hands
who always smelt briefly of woodsmoke
Who told the story of me always hiding away and reading books
with a smile and a sound in his voice I didn't recognize
Who made me promise to be great someday
And made the best muffins
My first role model that attacked the stereotype without even having to acknowledge it
A Navy man
And kind

I have a list of questions I never asked.
I want to know his story.
Beyond that of the sisters almost drowning him in a pig trough
or when he made ice water from melted ice

But the story that is behind that. The ones his godson knows
His real nieces

I am jealous of their connections and I grasp at the memories I have

The burn piles.
Getting carried.
The way he said my name, sort of rushed at the end.
Hearing him talk about music
But I can't remember what he said.

The sound of his laughter
finding its way up the stairs
down the hall
to where I sat surrounded by books desperate to escape into their worlds.

What a fool


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