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M A R C H   1 9 9 7

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by Steven Cramer

Hear Steven Cramer read this poem (in RealAudio):

RA 28.8, RA 14.4

(For help, see a note about the audio.)

Also by Steven Cramer:
The Accident (1990)
The Night We Knew For Sure (1994)

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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.

Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; March 1997; Villanelle After A Burial; Volume 279, No. 3; page 52.

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