Posted in 2018-2019, Issue 02, Poetry

Empty Carcass

by Hailey Stoner

I never quite understood why people choose to have
open casket funerals. I guess they want
to remember their beloved in the best way.
Even if it means remembering the empty carcass.
Remembering a house no longer inhabited.

Today, I am at my great grandmother’s
funeral. I am standing in the funeral home,
opposite the open casket.
Red and blue lights shine down on her.
An arrangement of pink and purple and white flowers
sits on the bottom half of the casket.

I have to remind myself
to breathe in. Breathe out.

She’s beautiful. Her thin, grey hair is
curled. She’s wearing a blue and purple flowered
dress. A cream shawl lays over her shoulders
and arms, covering her wrinkled skin.

I want to burst into tears.

Again, breathe in.
Breathe out.

We weren’t very close, but I can’t
stand being next to the casket.
She’s hollow. The mortician removed her
furniture, contaminated the house,
sealed the door.  

That isn’t her.
There is no rise and fall
of her chest. No movement
behind her eyelids. She isn’t asleep.
Isn’t warm.
Her heart is not beating.

That isn’t her.
It is only the cold, stiff body,
that everybody wants to remember.

Author:

Post Script is a magazine written, edited, and produced by the Creative Writing Department of Barbara Ingram School for the Arts. Through our articles, stories, poems, and the occasional lifehack, we have shared some of the things most important to us. There is a remarkable diversity of talent to be found in our students and their work, and we are unified by a common respect for that diversity. The editors and writers that make Post Script possible don’t have an end goal in sight, but instead a vision of a magazine that allows us to explore, learn, and grow. We have ventured into a new medium for self-expression and self-reflection, and hope that our art and the effort that went into this project will encourage, engage, and enlighten readers of all backgrounds.

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