Uncompleted Recall

By Jerri Clark

Story Contains

The postcard arrived just before Christmas.

Your name so familiar, the addressee.

A smudge from the postal machine blurred the text,

But instructions for What You Should Do still legible.

Expedite Repairs. Call the 800 number. Immediately.

I breathe in, and I breathe out. Sort the rest of the mail, but I set this aside.

It was a terrible day, when you were so ill,

And you believed the devil pierced your tire.

Your call that day was a turning point for us,

A clear sign you were you but not you.

The car became a symbol for your decline.

I breathe in, but the out gets stuck. I feel compelled to trace your name with my finger on this card.

You will not be calling. Repairs are past making.

They do not know that you died, long after

The car they are so worried about was impounded.

There was no safety recall for your brain,

When you believed your mind would fuel the car.

A breath out barely possible, followed by a shallow in. The message is funny, not funny.

I cannot remember whether you ever drove again.

Memories linger of your 16th birthday

The gift of Grandpa’s Mustang, fast and fun.

The world was an open road then.

Welcoming you to take the wheel, your steady eye.

Breath comes and goes, but I do not notice. Staring at the postcard, with its weird metaphors.

Our service center authorized to perform repairs

Or any updates necessary. Do not delay.

Two years too late to repair what?

What might have saved your life?

Why was the repair plan for your mind so unclear?

A loud breath leaves. A sigh, a cry. Ford Motor Company. One of your delusions. They wanted your soul.

No service center was authorized

To conduct an assessment or order new parts.

What broke was an enigma, no fault no blame.

But, ouch, the shame. Yours and mine,

We were ill-equipped to turn back time.

Under my breath, that song—"when the mamas sang us to sleep, but now we’re stressed out.”

Reality slipped; the songs became screams.

You crashed your way through a few painful years.

But the road closed. Warning signs everywhere.

No directions. No map. No roadside respites.

Your life was completely unfinished. Undone.

A breath interrupted. Uncompleted Recall Notification.

The postcard arrived just before Christmas.

Your name so familiar, the addressee.

A smudge from the postal machine blurred the text,

But instructions for What You Should Do still legible.

Expedite Repairs. Call the 800 number. Immediately.

I breathe in, and I breathe out. Sort the rest of the mail, but I set this aside.

It was a terrible day, when you were so ill,

And you believed the devil pierced your tire.

Your call that day was a turning point for us,

A clear sign you were you but not you.

The car became a symbol for your decline.

I breathe in, but the out gets stuck. I feel compelled to trace your name with my finger on this card.

You will not be calling. Repairs are past making.

They do not know that you died, long after

The car they are so worried about was impounded.

There was no safety recall for your brain,

When you believed your mind would fuel the car.

A breath out barely possible, followed by a shallow in. The message is funny, not funny.

I cannot remember whether you ever drove again.

Memories linger of your 16th birthday

The gift of Grandpa’s Mustang, fast and fun.

The world was an open road then.

Welcoming you to take the wheel, your steady eye.

Breath comes and goes, but I do not notice. Staring at the postcard, with its weird metaphors.

Our service center authorized to perform repairs

Or any updates necessary. Do not delay.

Two years too late to repair what?

What might have saved your life?

Why was the repair plan for your mind so unclear?

A loud breath leaves. A sigh, a cry. Ford Motor Company. One of your delusions. They wanted your soul.

No service center was authorized

To conduct an assessment or order new parts.

What broke was an enigma, no fault no blame.

But, ouch, the shame. Yours and mine,

We were ill-equipped to turn back time.

Under my breath, that song—"when the mamas sang us to sleep, but now we’re stressed out.”

Reality slipped; the songs became screams.

You crashed your way through a few painful years.

But the road closed. Warning signs everywhere.

No directions. No map. No roadside respites.

Your life was completely unfinished. Undone.

A breath interrupted. Uncompleted Recall Notification.

Jerri Clark

Jerri Clark advocates for treatment access in Washington State, where she started Mothers of the Mentally Ill (MOMI). She and her husband (married since 1994) have a daughter and two grandsons. Their son, Calvin, died from suicide March 18, 2019.

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