Allison Joseph

Letter to a Funeral
by Allison Joseph

Shouldn’t you happen in winter, endless cold snap,
bitter winds bruising my chapped
cheeks? In movies, you are always gray,
set in misty graveyards where actors say
unsatisfying truths about life, death,
wandering between fake headstones left
out in the gloom of cinematic rain.
Unseemly to sweat through pain,
to bury our dead as unremitting sun
makes black dresses and ties cling
to our sodden mourning frames.
This lush sense of loss is better tamed
when cast-off leaves crunch beneath our feet,
when chimney smoke and pots of tea come sweet
enough to conquer grief, at least
for just a little while. Shouldn’t mourning
wear a winter coat, a scarf, awnings
bowed with the season’s first snow?
Your funeral should have been in October,
November–season cold enough for embers,
for the burnt ends of fires we built
to warm us when the sun’s tilt
turned away from us, left us cold,
but somehow better equipped for the old
songs of grief, songs of loss–
music sustaining us though we’re tossed
by all of these arrangements, what they cost.
Still, it doesn’t matter when the mourning’s done.
In the heat, we’re silent. We’ve come undone.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 3.

Allison JosephAllison Joseph lives, writes, and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where she’s part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Her most recent books are My Father’s Kites (Steel Toe Books), Trace Particles (Backbone Press), and Little Epiphanies (Imaginary Friend Press).

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