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Burning Aunt Hisako

Afterward we sifted through her ashes
with long chopsticks—one bamboo
and one willow, for this life and the next.

The furnace-keeper lifted bone by bone.
“Her ankle bone,” he tendered. “Her left thumb.”
A plate-shaped bone he named “her face,”

just before he smashed it into pieces
small enough to drop inside a dull bronze urn.
“What are we looking for?” I whispered

as we sifted. “From her throat, a bone
that’s said to hold a seated Buddha.”
From Adam’s rib to this, does at least one bone

from every body belong to someone else? Never
mind—what use are their own bone Buddhas now,
to Aunt Hisako smoldering on her slab,

to my mother’s father sealed beneath a hard
and glittering snow? Bits of mica, memory
of fireflies—my own hand on my own throat—

of what use is this thirst for things
resembling other things, this endless trying
to wring milk from a two-headed cow.


Crows, Reckoning

A crow remembers who crowded it out of the trash can,
who cast at it sticks and rocks and rockets fashioned from bottles.
Long after you have forgotten, the crow remembers your face,
the space between your eyes, the rise of your cheek,
your beakless maw, and with caw both credo and cri de coeur,
the crow causes you to recall that gardens are, by their nature,
not nature, but the cult of cranium over creation,
a human rebuke cloaked in clover and cockscomb and crocus.
A crow says, If a garden is not god-wrung, then who
seeded the Garden of Eden, crux of the human cradle,
till ceded by Adam and even then who, do you suppose,
forespoke the stain of Cain if not a crow, or a murder
of crows.  


Jessica Goodfellow’s manuscript, The Insomniac’s Weather Report, won the Three Candles Press First Book Prize. Her poetry chapbook, A Pilgrim’s Guide to Chaos in the Heartland, won the Concrete Wolf Chapbook Competition. Her work has appeared in the anthology Best New Poets andon Verse Daily, and her poems have twice been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac. She is a recipient of the Chad Walsh Poetry Prize from the Beloit Poetry Journal, as well as the Linda Julian Essay Award and the Sue Lile Inman Fiction Prize, both from the Emrys Foundation. A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she lives in Japan with her husband and sons.