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My First Dead Body
by Lisa J. Cihlar

A friend of my grandmothers
whom I had never met,
Bernice from Brussels.

My father drove us to the funeral home,
waited in the car while Grandma
and I went in to payourrespects.

I did not know
if this stranger looked good,
natural, as if she were sleeping,
they whispered. I was not afraid.

I touched the gleaming,
satin lined, wooden box,
half opened, half closed,
surrounded by roses,
lilies, daisies.

Dad was smoking a cigarette
when we got back into the car.
He patted grandma's hand,
she cried a little, wiping her eyes
with an embroidered handkerchief.
We stopped at the Dairy Queen
on the way home. I had a vanilla
cone dipped in a waxy cherry coat.

The next day, I made my brother
and sister bring bright marsh marigolds,
dandelions, and sweet-smelling lilacs,
to cover my legs as I lay,
eyes slit squinting,
in the empty horse trough.

About the author:
Lisa J. Cihlar lives and writes in rural Brodhead, Wisconsin, with her husband and too many cats to count. She has had poems published in Word Riot, Wicked Alice, Salome, Qarrtsiluni, Best Poem, and other journals. She was selected a runner-up in the 2007 Wisconsin People and Ideas poetry contest and was nominated for a 2008 Pushcart Prize. Her favorite way to spend a day is to write a poem in the morning and pull weeds from among tomato plants all afternoon.

© 2011 Word Riot

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Midnight Picnic
a novel by
Nick Antosca


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