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Grandma Jean

by Rebekah Hallman
Illustrations by Cailin Hall

 
Illustration by Cailin Hall

Illustration by Cailin Hall

 

In the leaving
memories were left unwrapped,
bows long wilted and string left
to hang.
After the funeral date 
was announced I tried 
the traditional stages of 
mourning, 
but it is hard to grieve
over what was never there.
You were simply happening,
then happened.

I’d wonder at the final moments,
if you sensed the rot whispering sulfur
through your ribs
gas curdling your lungs.
Could you feel tumors
kicking for more room?
Loved ones haloed over you
linked writ to wrist
whimpering hymns of comfort?
Bleached sheets
hiding the smell of your carnage
once plump skin turned rancid
as vultures in white coats 
await puffy breaths
and glazed pupils.

The funeral was puckered
attendees dripping over your casket.
Only the most treasured were given
allowance to sit at the front,
heads bowed lines memorized
each sniffle orchestrated in time;
You would’ve been so proud. 

We sat boxed, little sardines
sweltering in their oils
between paper doll women
and wicker men. 
The priest spoke on how
compassionate
you were.
But where was that
compassion
when siblings became soldiers
their children bullets?
When family was pitted
against family
how am I to learn forgiveness
when you are maggoty and vile?
I cannot weep for a stranger.