The Anatomy of a Funeral

By Jessica Lee McMillian

Standard-issue funeral option
tombstones are concrete slabs
like ashes in a cardboard box,
aggregate mixtures of concrete sprawl,
a parade through life and death 
we can’t commemorate.

The horizontal sidewalk ribs
set the tone for every street,
like every memorial,
each fine, horizontal line
strains eye to expansion joints
dutifully stepped over, 
lest a spine you break
the spaces you went rogue–
that which is left out of the eulogy–

courteous platitudes,
and no reminders
of an untimely end,
in lieu of dead flowers,
paths are trawled clean
to keep appearances neat.

Slipped into the gutter lip
down the steel grate
 — the surfaces of psyche — 
resist the wood forms we fill,
the coercion rebar hiding the quakes,

the defiance of footprints
cast in wet, unfinished selves
begging for grass,
begging for a roast, not a speech.


Jessica Lee McMillan is an emerging BC poet with an MA in English. She likes crooked, shiny things, and her writing explores architectures of perception, existentialism and longing in nature and music. You can find her work in A Poetry of Place: Journeys Across New Westminster, ShabdAaweg Review, RCLAS Wordplay at Work, Bewildering Stories and Pocket Lint. When not writing, doing front-line legal work or teaching, she spends time with her little family and buries herself in books and records. She writes from a charming, gritty, historical river city in British Columbia.

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