Vesseling the Dead

ashley crout

You’ll want to say she looked peaceful – the chest lowered,
the eyes closed on their own. You’ll want to hear about the hush

in the room like a baby sleeping, how everyone crept away,
tossing wetted twisted tissues like discarded dolls

in the biodegradable bin and finally slept again. You will not believe
that the sheet held the shape of an agonized face, that the body

rattled on its own. I have to believe we are offerings when we die.
We are given back to something worthy of us, something grateful

and familiar. You will believe this the most and forget how
we shut the doors of the useless rooms in her house to trap the sour

smell of neglect, the windless curtain moving like a breath.
We cut and killed hundreds of flowers because what else do you do.

Murder after murder. We threw them in after the vessel, added dirt
in handfuls as if something lovely would grow – aside from

the manufactured sod they spray paint green in the dying winter
to keep us from thinking of what it is we visit here.


Ashley Crout was born in Charleston, SC, and graduated from Bard College and the MFA program at Hunter College. She is the recipient of a poetry grant from The Astraea Foundation and has received awards from The Academy of American Poets and the Poetry Foundation. Her work has been published in Sojourner, Ponder Review and Dodging the Rain, among others. She lives in Greenville, SC, with her hound, Stella.