Megan Culp


I found my grandfather dead two summers ago
In my fathers guest room, where he’d been teetering
between lucidity
And counting somberly in german

I stood punch-drunk, watching his still chest
before I hurried everyone to the guest room
They were wrapped in towels, dripping from the hot tub
We stared at the bed,
Unsure of the protocol

We gathered chairs and stared at him
His exposed shoulders-
giant, pigmented knobs that had sprouted stray hairs
His nose and ears as gargantuan as I remember
All the bareness was jarring
But the empty walls gave me little else to focus on
And anything I said felt crude
Because it was undeniable
That he was just a stranger with my fathers face

A handful of years earlier, I saw my grandfather in Galveston
He had the bones of a boar,
A smile that demanded a rival
His wife was much younger than him
and maintained a spirit much younger than her
I remember thinking his life was like a book I’d skimmed
Looking for glamour
stories of the cups he’d emptied or the men he’d measured,
as if it would say something about me

Sitting in the guest room,
I watched my now orphaned father
reveal a calm sorrow that I know nothing about
I just held his hand and avoided his mortality
Foolishly expecting humor to alleviate his grief
But if I’m honest with myself-
even if I was taught how to console,
I am not mature enough

When we visit my dad, we stay in the guest room
And I’ve hung pictures on the walls now
I hardly ever think about this
I don’t think he does either

Megan Culp is a thirty-year-old mother from the D.C. area. She currently resides in Virginia with her family. Her work has been recently published in Ink Sweat and Tears.