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Monday's Poem

© 2013 Ann Graham Walker

Ann Graham Walker grew up on so many continents (South America, North America, Australia), she doesn’t know where she’s from. But she’s lived on Vancouver Island since 2002. After a decade as a CBC radio producer and several years writing for The Medical Post, Ann now divides her time between freelancing, poetry and a novel-to-be. As a poet, she’s been published in literary magazines; in numerous chapbooks edited by Patrick Lane; three anthologies (Rocksalt, The Wild Weathers and Poems from Planet Earth) and her own chapbook, The Puzzle at the End of Love (Leaf Press/2012), in which "A Place Like This" first appeared in slightly different form.


A Place Like This

The son in this story, and the daughter
have paid extra money to be present
when their mother is burned.

She's waited two weeks
for her slot in the furnace.
They need to know if it's her.

The mother's face shrivelled leather,
her jaw somehow bigger, as if
startled by her square pine container.

They scatter petals on her
once-green irises – leached like sea glass.
One petal drops into her mouth.

The furnace attendant in this story
wears dirty clothes, stained with booze
and fried chicken.

His job comes with free lodgings
down the corridor from the chamber,
he's become impervious to the smell:

to the three-hour searing between body and powder.

He breaks the silence with a grunt.
Gestures for the son to pull the switch–
             could have made fifty dollars, salvaging that pine box.

Cluttering the loading zone, his heap of
used (but unburned) cardboard coffins.

              Scribbled on with black marker: the names of the dead.

The mother in this story, right up to the end
wore colour-matched shoes and Miss Dior perfume.

She would have rather died than lie down
in a place like this.

about us ::: guidelines ::: contact ::: order ::: chapbooks ::: Monday's Poem