Dear Advice Columnist by Ona Gritz

Dear Advice Columnist

Advise me. People keep dying.
My co-worker on vacation in Charlotte,
aneurism burst to the brain.
My cousin sitting inside a cell phone store
(yes, inside, that’s not a typo) when a car
crashed through the plate-glass window,
mowing right over her small, strong
dancer’s body as she waited her turn.
Before that, my brother-in-law
with the dubious honor of saying goodbye
to functions, one after another after another—
goodbye walking, bye-bye holding a spoon,
sayonara speech—all in the rapid-fire way
ALS decrees. As for my immediate family:
cancer, cancer, hep C, cancer, victim of a murder.
Dear Advice Columnist, dear me,
how do I get the remaining people
I love to outlive me, without exiting
too soon myself? Stop the world,
Advice Giver, or is it the clock?
I want to stay, but only
if you stay with me. Not you, per se,
figment who can never answer this letter,
but you and you and you and you…

*

Ona Gritz’s new collection of essays, Present Imperfect, is out now from Poets Wear Prada. She is also the author of Geode, a Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award finalist, and On the Whole: a Story of Mothering and Disability. A longtime columnist at Literary Mama, Ona’s poems and essays have appeared in Ploughshares, The New York Times, River Teeth, The Bellevue Literary Review, Brevity, and elsewhere. Recent honors include two Notable mentions in Best American Essays, a Best Life Story in Salon, and a winning entry in The Poetry Archive Now: Wordview 2020 project.

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