I felt a funeral in my brain,
and like a knife down my scarred spine
the long, black, thin, slow, groaning train
engraved a measured, cold, hard line.
Some old men laughed—nobody cried.
No one wanted to touch the casket.
I asked the restless crowd, “Who died?”
The mortician warned, “Don’t ask that.”
I watched the train wind through my skull
to the mount of my abandoned breast,
but gravediggers found the ground full
with tombs where more dead tried to rest.
A low dirge echoed in my head
as pallbearers sealed closed the box.
Inside something screamed, “I’m not dead,”
while four strong men bolted the locks.
Then they dug a hole in my chest.
“Dear God, forgive her mortal sin,”
the grey priest murmured. “May you rest.”
Old grave hands filled the red hole in.
I heard dirt pounding on the door
to the shattered vault of my heart
and knew the strangers did it for
my sake, since you and I must part.
Holly Woodward is an artist and writer whose works have won over a hundred honors. She spent a year as a doctoral fellow at Moscow University; she also studied for two semesters at Saint Petersburg U. She served as writer in residence at Saint Albans, Washington National Cathedral. Holly was a fiction fellow at CUNY’s Writers Institute for the last four years.