Image of Long Story Short Award - 2022
Image of Poetry
a girl with my name died, so i went to her funeral.
she'd been missing, and i guess the ground froze over her body,
or a terrible and morbid story like that. i didn't know her, but i know
the search went on for a week, our name on the radio and tv, i had to hear it,
over and over. i don't know how

they finally did find her, i imagine that maybe all the plants died
around the corpse, or maybe when the searching started
everything rotted, maybe the field turned sick under suspicion
because it was so embarrassed by the crime.
i don't know. she was out in the frozen mud for a week– i heard

the cops searched the whole time, and now
i'm at the expensive funeral. and now i see her family,
up at the top of the hill in the cemetery, while i stand far away
and admire the names on other graves.

i wonder about her grandparents, her cousins,
her life, her hopes, her dreams,
her prom dress, and did she get to wear it? was she always
as blonde, as gloss-lipped, as delicate-smiled as in
that big picture in the church? i never

bought a prom dress, never felt safe in a skirt, god,
i don't know if i've ever felt safe. i try to imagine my mother's face
looking like her mother's face,
all pale and wet and through the fog. i wonder if my dad
could bare to look, or if he would have to turn away. i imagine myself

in the forest at the bottom of some ditch in the cold,
covered up with dirt. i imagine my ghost begging the foliage
to point the other direction. i imagine i'm wearing a dress, i
am imagining myself dead. i am imagining myself glossed, blonde,
and pink frilled,
and wearing shiny white shoes for a high-school dance.

it'd be sadder, like that, wouldn't it?
if when i died, i died like a girl?
i pretend the name belongs to just her. i pretend
it always has. when i was fifteen

i shaved my head and my grandma looked at me like
she see was seeing that name on a tombstone, too. like
she was identifying my body in the morgue. like i was defiled
by some awful masculine touch, like she wanted to say poor girl,
square-jawed like a boy. i wonder

how they found the girl who owns that name now, if the field decayed
in humiliation of the body it held, the way i shrunk into myself and

all those big jackets, those baggy jeans,
the tall boots, the short hair,
i made myself so small, curled up
like a body bag in the back of an ambulance. i wanted

everyone to stop saying that name. i wonder

if my family would still come to my funeral
if i wrote a letter out in the frost
and asked for an unmarked grave?