Tag Archives: grieving

Nod Ghosh

Where Your Eyes Used to Be

The first time I took you from your grave, there were spaces where your eyes used to be.

Your taut middle rippled under my fingers, the patterns in your fur familiar, though the bloating was unexpected. I’d thought you might have changed, but had expected a withered carcass, not something turgid.

When I brushed the loam from your body, you felt like an overfull bladder; not the mummified corpse I’d visualised. The skin broke when I rubbed your neck, yielding maggots small as pinpricks.

I returned you to the earth and left you there for a fortnight.

When I did it again, you were wet through, though it hadn’t rained. Gritty soil blended with your coat. I wanted to shovel earth over your body because you were rank with gases of putrefaction, but I hesitated.

I missed you. I was happy to hold you, despite the odour.

I missed you in many ways. How you’d cry for a feed, then walk around my ankles afterwards, hoping for something better. I missed your old smell, somewhere between stagnant water and sausage fat. I missed your meow, loud and operatic at times, quiet and pitiful at others. I missed you positioning your bottom against my lips, as if doing me a great service.

I put you back.

This morning I took you out again.

You have turned fragile in the last month. My spade almost split you in two. You are dry as sticks, brittle as chalk, your centre hollow. I fold the pieces this way and that. Something scuttles from you into the dirt. It is black and beaded, like an overcooked raisin, but with legs.

You are the colour of soil. Your bones roll like dropped pencils.

I know I have to stop doing this. I have to let you go.

You once inhabited the space between nose and tail, front and backbone.

Now there is nothing but emptiness where your eyes used to be.

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Nod Ghosh graduated from the Hagley Writers Institute in Christchurch, New Zealand. Stories and poems feature in various New Zealand and international publications. Nod’s day job involves working in a scientific laboratory, diagnosing cancer and monitoring foetal-maternal bleeds amongst other things. Further details: http://www.nodghosh.com/about/

 

 

 

 

 

Colleen Maynard

Hands

Confronted with the responsibility of viewing the body, it’s good to have as many small tasks to do. Kneeling on the padded bench becomes a slow dance. Contents are now at eye level. Look downcast for reverence (you’re too empathetic to be bored). Or bite the bullet and look at the body. Maintain gentle eyes, this isn’t an exam. Brooding is my style, yet for appearances I force myself to glance once. Mom says it’s just a body now; the soul is up in heaven with our other relatives. I’m led to believe deceased great-grandparents look down from above, paralleling the cheerful song about Jesus being everywhere. Is this supposed to be comforting? Is Jesus in our beds when we climb inside them at night? While I’m in the bathroom do my relatives gaze lovingly on, or do they wheel around out of respect? There have to be limits.

I start treating visitation as though watching a horror movie with people: when you know it’s about to get bad, fix your eyes on the lower-right corner of the television set and focus. Blood and bone are blurred. The twinkle in its eye may be imagined.

Hover on a starched collar, or the fluff of hair at her temple. The hands are friendlier, clasped in eternal prayer. Surely they retain something of the person I knew. Their soul’s begun to re-assemble one slotted piece at a time in heaven. Her hands will be the last up.

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Colleen Maynard has appeared in such publications as matchbook, Monkeybicycle, NANO Fiction, and SHARKPACK Poetry Review. Maynard graduated from the Kansas City Art Institute and received training in Botanical Illustration at Illinois Natural History Survey. She writes and draws at www.colleenmaynard.com.