Doubting Cremation, by Barbara Ellen Sorensen

Six months since you died
and only now I begin to feel
the missing resonance of your body.

I walk for hours through fresh snow;
the ground is a rib I turn over
with each step. I unearth
what should not be on this earth
but is familiar to me. I unearth you.

Then, we walk though ponderosa pines
and they begin creaking in the wind.
I mistake them for the sound of your
child voice, like the lilt of a flute
leading me to the taproot
where I stop to rest beneath
boles and branches.

I know you will eventually become
as ancient as they, and I grow heavy
with thoughts of your missing body,
your body burned away
to gray ash, impossible to hold.
Then, you leave me again.

What rose up from your burning
was not only severance of skin from bone,
tissue from flesh, tendon from muscle,
but the beauty of a body
torn twice from mine, because all mothers
repeat the births of their children who die.

Sometimes I am lucky
and find you, clamoring just enough
so that I momentarily rejoice and rejoice,
my hands opening to hold you again
as carefully as I might hold the lavender
butterfly loosened from its gambel oak.

From Compositions of the Dead Playing Flutes (2013 Able Muse Press)
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Barbara Ellen Sorensen is former senior editor for Winds of Change magazine, the flagship publication of the American Indian Science & Engineering Society. She now freelances for The Tribal College Journal and the National Indian Child Welfare Association. Barbara is the author of the chapbook, Song from the Deep Middle Brain which was a 2011 Colorado Book Award finalist. She was nominated for a 2012 Pushcart Prize for her memoir piece, “Ghost Flower & Wind” (Drunken Boat, spring 2012), and an interview with her can be found in the archived edition of Fringe Magazine (spring 2012). A memoir piece about her participation in Haiti relief work can be found in the anthology, So Spoke the Earth. Her graduate degree in creative writing is from Regis University in Denver.

3 thoughts on “Doubting Cremation, by Barbara Ellen Sorensen

  1. This poem is very straight to the point. It is very descriptive, so it is very clear what the author is going for and how the main character is feeling. The poem has a lot of imagery with several metaphors that can paint the picture in our heads. It also gives us a sense of what it feels like to cremate a body and the feeling of regret of doing such a thing. This poem was a great read and something that was entertaining to look more into.

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