Death without Boxes

August 22, 2011
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My grandmother was…unique with her language.

“Good things come with warm bread.”
“In life, rocks are more fragile than trees.”
“If you’re thinking something that you shouldn’t say, sing it.”

“I want a crispy burial.”

She said that a lot as she died.
Mother would usher me from the room,
but I could hear Grandma’s weak cackles through the door.

“Mother, don’t say that!”

“Bury me in a Pringles can, Stephanie.”
“Mother, how would you fit?”
“Burn me, then pour in my ashes!”

“Mother, I won’t do that.”

Grandma would laugh hard enough to cough.
“Of course you will, sweetheart.”
“I said no, Mother.”

“I want to talk to my granddaughter now.”

I was left alone with her,
In that musty, cluttered, old room,
with motes floating in the feeble light.

“Promise me something, child.”

“When I die, let me—”
She broke off, hacking painfully.


“Let me have a crispy burial.”
Sighing, she turned her cracked face and filmy eyes

to the yellowed window.

I waited, tried not to let the dust motes touch me.
“Let them burn me, boil me, throw me in the ocean…
just not another locked box.”

“Okay, Grandma.”

“Will you do it?”
“I can’t be stuck in a box.”

Her gaze settled in my direction.

“A box would hold me in,
keep me from getting my warm bread,
from being a tree.”

Slowly her eyes closed, her breath escaped.

“Don’t let them stick me in a box.”
A bird flew by the dirty window.
“Life is all about boxes. Death should be something else—“

“It should be crispy.”

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