how my father always used that word, peculiar, as if it were a medicine, or a stone he kept deep in his brown trouser pocket so he could remove it at will, to stare at and admire, like when we drove into the Catskills, those great unconscious slopes . . . peculiar, Dad would say, as if awe could be defeated by three willed syllables. Or as we sat around the kitchen table, our four bodies — mother, father, sister, myself — shaping our own Zeiger galaxy. And Mom would bring out a new food, an artichoke, let’s say, and Dad would look down on it, a serene and spiky green steaming on the flowered plate, and then, as if to tame it, would announce, peculiar, which is what I still think, seven years later, of the fact that he is dead.