The Charred Body (Or, My Father)

The title is an attempt at drawing you in, like the name of a Lovecraft story written by a collective of Romanian immigrants in the 1950s. Trying to get under your skin, maybe, or under the flaps and flows and muscles and bones that are you.

Or maybe those are all wrong words.

This post is about my father. He was electrocuted a few weeks ago. In essence, a crane operator swung him into a power line. A great big pop, like a balloon. He says that he thought it might have been his hand–skin distended to a limit, horrifying, popping with a great meaty burp. It wasn’t that. It was probably a transformer down the line. Twelve thousand volts into my father, out of televisions, refrigerators, surround sound systems, garbage disposals, bathroom lightbulbs, laptops, the world of electronic experience and sound that we are bound in and to. All of that power into my father.

A lateral line through flesh. A map of the body, point A to point B.

He hung there for a moment, spinning, twitching. Meat on wire.

He couldn’t look at the wound, the charred hand. He couldn’t look because it might not be there, or might be wrong, and it was wrong when he finally looked down. He tried to stand up. He was on fire. He wasn’t really on fire. He made jokes. The disintegration of the body means that we make jokes, we have to make jokes, what else is there but jokes?

They flew him through the air. They treated him. They flew him through the air.

Abrading is a little like cutting, a little like scraping. All the foreign material, no longer my father, replaced by nothing. A hole you could put a fist in. The pictures don’t look like they are attached to anything in particular. A Time/Life series on the horrors of far away. Not that far away. My father.

Patches of skin stapled into holes. Flayed flesh and bone that lays open, uncovered. A covering over the body that is the body itself.

Living and rotting at the same time. A joke that isn’t very funny. A smell that you can’t shake. Patchwork man. My father.


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4 Responses to The Charred Body (Or, My Father)

  1. Ruby Hawkins says:

    Cameron, It will be a long journey for your father, but he has the grit that most of us don’t have. He will make it. Our hopes and prayers are with him.

  2. I am sorry to hear about that. I hope everything goes as well as possible.

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