Villanelle After A Burial

Whatever they turned into wasn't ash.
Afraid of finding teeth, or something bony,
We had to face the aftermath of flesh.

Father's looked like coral: coarse, whitish.
Mother's looked like sand, but a fine dark gray.
Whatever they turned into wasn't ash --

More like a grainy noise that rose, a shush
We buried under their willow, spilled really.
We had to face it: the aftermath of flesh

Takes just two shovelfuls of dirt to finish
Off completely. Don't expect epiphanies,
Whatever they turned into. Wasn't ash

A dusty enough word, though, for the wish
That bits of spirit settle in what we see
After we face the aftermath of flesh?

We drove off in three pairs, each astonished
By awkward living talk, jittery keys.
We had to face the aftermath of flesh
(Whatever they turned into) wasn't ash.

 

 



The Atlantic Monthly; March 1997; Villanelle After A Burial; Volume 279, No. 3; page 52.


 

Presented by

[1999] Steven Cramer is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Dialogue for the Left and Right Hand (1997). He teaches literature and writing at Bennington College.

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The 86-Year-Old Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

More in Entertainment

Just In