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Head of the Family

Animals never choose to end their lives because they cannot imagine

narratives, and so cannot dread how they will continue, scientists say.

Only those who can conceive of a future can want to give up a part in it.


So whales beaching themselves by the dozens, sick leader hypothesis

explains, are following the lone one among them with orientation altered

by illness, not their wish. We school around my grandfather’s cot where,


despite damage no surgery can repair, age, so many reasons, he does not

die. He stays. His hand swelled to illiterate claw, tongue un-obeying, but

all he needs is to say, Susie, Sandra, Lily, or Rose, it doesn’t matter which.


One of his girls, daughter or child born of her, any member of the group

will behave as the rest. We are all still standing here. It will take suffering

weeks of the strongest arguments to convince him of what lies ahead,


while we, the view at his feet, appear as if we wish to go on living.

And answer to, try to follow the direction of, whatever cry he issues.