Featured Poetry

Funeral Home on a Friday Afternoon

By Anastasia Jill

We schedule the cremation.
The director is named Bill.
He is a man of big gut
and little comfort.

In the “family room,”
There are urns
shaped like tears, trees,
angels, American Flags.

The smallest–
bijou, pink and gold,
Available in Blue! 
It hurts to see
that Infant Keepsake Urn.

Bill sits at his computer,
taking labored, lamaze breaths,
giving birth to discomfort
while burying the dead.

He is awkward,
Puffy and red,
as he suggests,
“Let’s write an obituary!”

as if we are in high school
orchestrating the newspapers
into columns or writing fun reports
on football games and not
my orphanage. 

It is straightforward.
Date of birth.
Date of death.
Maiden name. 
“X passed away in Orlando Florida,
on May fourteenth, 2021.”

I want to say:
“There is a comma between Orlando and Florida.”
“Fourteenth shouldn’t be spelled out.”
“What is wrong with you?”
“I’m not okay.”

Bill asks about me.
I tell him I am barely 20,
feel 120,
and have lost all of
my immediate family.

He offers condolences,
wrapped in a schadenfreude gown. 
“I’m lucky,” he says, “I’ve only lost grandparents.
That’s how it goes; you bury them,
then mom and dad.” 

He tells me
I have 120 days to pick up the ashes.
Bill tells me that is a formality. 
People are left behind.
It is sad, but it happens. 

“Say a man has one relative–
a brother.
They’re not on speaking terms, 
so he comes and–”
wipes his hands of the 
whole thing.

“Does what he has to do,
but doesn’t care 
about his brother.” 

He hands me the bill.
It is 1200 dollars.
For a small fee,
they will transfer the ashes
from cardboard to metal.
It is hard, but, 
“I think I can manage that.” 

Bill hands me his card,
says to call day or night.
If I need anything–
any small thing–

the ashes will be ready
in 7-12 business days.

Anastasia Jill

Anastasia Jill (she/they) is a queer writer living in the Central Florida. She has been nominated for Best American Short Stories, Best of the Net, and several other honors. Her work has been featured with Poets.org, Pithead Chapel, Contemporary Verse 2, OxMag, Broken Pencil, and more.

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