Rumors of Her Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
Mistake one: driving by two cemeteries when the kids
are tired. Mistake two: saying only some people get
buried. Where are the others, my son asks.
So I have to explain cremation. I'm smart enough
to leave out burials at sea, bodies never found,
the yawn of earthquakes, missing children,
teens on spring breaks that never end, bodies hidden,
basements and old barns and attics. What war can do.
Shells, mortar rounds, the terror of Claymore mines --
they're filled with old screws and nuts, metal scraps
twisting through bodies until they embed deeply
into trees, even rocks. Someone angry invented
these, someone who lived in a junkyard.
So I don't say this. All the while I'm trying to change
the subject, get them home. Look at the Christmas
lights, the yellow car, the cement mixer. But where
do you want your ashes, he says, where is it that
you love. He's crying, he's tapping my shoulder,
I'm exclaiming over a stray dog and do you think
we'll get more snow, wouldn't you love more snow
Walker; he's saying when is Daddy going to die,
don't die before me; I have both hands on the wheel,
I'm remarking over the stars, help me look for the moon,
I'm slowing for a stoplight that is red, red, red, red, red.
- Karen Skolfield (from Boxcar Poetry Review)