Case Reference #2016-0565

We insist on living…

—Virginia Woolf


But some of us don’t. You never wanted to live.
And now your body is held together by black swans
lacing in and out of the ‘V’ knifed
from your shoulders to your ribcage.
In the suture grief is wild, where grief
is genetic code, the links pulling us back
into a family where we tether copper
over your eyes the way you roped
yourself with addiction. I have always
paid penances for you. Even now I am
rewriting this story. What stares back
from the copper? Our boy crying.
Your mother’s heart limping in single syllables.
A line splits your body into thirds. Our son
wants to know where your body will go.
We have swabbed his mouth
showing him you are in him. He is the boat
in your sutures. We cry each night
into the likeness of a boat. Its animals clawing.
They asked where to scatter your ashes.
It’s too much another prison to keep you
in a box. The biodegradable urn will make you
into a birch tree, or an American ash. Life will come back
to us. Wild rabbits and goats. Your mother’s horses.
But for now your body is plated
on a silver table your silver lithium where I
have asked for the last of your remains—
your DNA. Your trunk where the ribcage
will lift off like a gruesome lid.
They have sewn your body, dipped into your soup
with surgical ladles. Your lungs like loons
severely injured. You always planned to die.
I could smell it coming like I can smell rain
moving across the field across the horse-apples,
the geese flying their formation.


Stephanie Bryant Anderson earned her B.S. in English and Psychology from Austin Peay State University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Passages North, Birmingham Poetry Review, Mid-American Review and others. Her chapbook Monozygotic | Codependent (2015) is available from The Blue Hour Press. Currently Stephanie is completing an M.S. in Mental Health Counseling.