Upon Meeting a Boy on the Street, While Carrying the Cremated Remains of My Alice

The kid says it, and the bell can’t be unrung: “Your wife’s nothing but a pile of dirt now.” Was it just the uncorrupted, clear-eyed innocence of a child, or did he mean to be cruel? And could a child, a boy of only eight or nine years old, be so insidious? I try to adjust my thinking, flip the switch from darkness to light, but the old filaments in my mind snap; glass shatters; synapses misfire. I grab his neck with my right hand, squeeze the small cardboard box with my left and make him—eat—his—words.