Tucked under a pile of wool sweaters, under the wedding dress that I didn’t let you help me pick out, under the little white sailor outfit that I bought on Etsy for your grandson’s baptism that you missed because you were dead, deep in a corner of the cedar chest that grandma wanted me to have even though what I really wanted was her piano, are your ashes (some of them anyway) in a black velvet bag.

That you wanted to be burned, instead of locked in a box to not-rot under the dirt, was the only thing we knew for certain. We split you up between the three of us, each with our portion, and made our own plans. I used to tell myself that I would scatter your ashes from the roadside overlook where dad took your picture on the way to our wedding, but I kept waiting for the right moment: when I got pregnant, when I had the baby, when he was old enough to come with me. When. I want to stop grieving you.

But there you are, buried in the dark at the bottom of your own mother’s cedar chest, trapped in the smallest room of my house, where dad sleeps when he comes to visit.

Dad told me he can’t find his bag, his share of your burned up bones and flesh. Maybe you got yourself lost? Perhaps I’ll get you out, tell him I found you, and set that part of you (of us) free.

Desi Allevato

Desi Allevato lives with her husband in central Virginia, where they are raising one child, two cats, and a hundred tree saplings in a suburban backyard. She has a brain tumor and an unfinished dissertation about Russian history. Her recent work is published in Longridge Review and mac(ro)mic. Follow her on Twitter, @desirosie.

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