Gray Campbell: “Valedictions”


Final Exit

Dying, I’ve learned what no one taught me in drama class. Of course we’re all actors. But then life is a colossal play directed by Chance, all our social roles are costumes, and shifts in fortune are little more than new acting jobs. Death, then, is just the act of hanging up your last outfit, relinquishing your final role, and re-emerging as a member of the anonymous crowd. —If my drama teacher had taught me this simple lesson, I might’ve been better prepared for the grand finale…


Typical. Nine months after I’m gone, my own mother comes to haunt me. “You think your parents trick you when you’re alive,” she’d smirk. “Just wait till we’re dead.” But sick jokes turn sour in crowded houses. And now out of the corner of my eye, I see her counting my old pills, rifling through papers, hear her thinking at the top of her lungs… Strange she never got the memo. If your children predecease you, you’re always searching for them—especially in death. At least my ears no longer lie when she reminds me it’s time to go.

Gray Campbell has published drama in Phantom Drift: A Journal of New Fabulism, an illustrated poem (with the artist Julian Witts) in Glint, and poetry in Screen Door Review: Queer Voices of the New South. He works as an adjunct professor of English at Baruch College (City University of New York), St. John’s University, and anywhere else he’s lucky enough to find a teaching gig. 

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