Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

Funeral

BY E. HUGHES

—Sunnyvale, California 2001

 
The men wiped beads of sweat
from their bald heads
 
and the women coursed
in black hats
into the mouth of grief.
 
The sanctuary was full of things
I’d known nothing about:
 
a vial of anointing oil
 
an amethyst sweat-cloth

slung over the sharp bishop’s suit

 
a twisted cross

hung high on the wall

 
a portrait of a white man—

his eyes pale and unmoved.

 
Daddy, Uncle Koot, and Uncle Larry
pulled at their mother the way children do—

Come on, Mama

Come on, Mama

 
—trying to coax her down
from her daughter’s casket.
 
I stood behind Nana
knee deep the anguish
of not knowing
 
where the person goes
when she detaches from
her body.
 
I chewed the word died
like neckbone meat
 
and remembered how I lay
in the grass on my back
when Mom whispered
 

—Kat died

—Complications

—Lupus

 
—how I ran from an evening
that burned like a wick
and hid from god in a closet.

 
 


E. Hughes is a poet from San Jose, California. She’s an MFA+MA candidate in poetry and University Fellow at Northwestern University. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Entropy Magazine and BOAAT Journal, among others. In 2018, she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Hughes has been a fellow at the Tin House Winter Workshop and the Hurston/Wright Foundation. Follow her on Twitter here.