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Burial Rites

By Emma Truong

In my dream you became

Every grief I don't yet know how to name.

My doctor says love is a detachment

And I think of you

Quietly burying your animal body

While I held your hand, helped you dig,

Understood the moth that lost its way home,

How it made a saint out of its own burning

While I played the student that watched it die

Under the microscope light

Content in the hearth of glory,

Bigger than small,

Home at last.

In the morning, at the doctor's office:

The lesson, an interpretation of yesterday:

Their pain is not yours to hold.

So when he is not looking I swallow spoonfuls of soil

Tainted sour by your imperfect joy

And forget to wipe its ashes from the corners of my mouth.

The story ends how many do:

I open my eyes and you are there -

My absent love, coming to take me home.

In the darkness of day's end

You light the torch and I follow it doggedly

To the mound in the shape of everything we do not say.


Emma Truong is a student at Northwestern University. She likes to think, read, and write about queer literature, speculative fiction, beautiful words, and the messy, gory creatures that inhabit them. She lives in Evanston, Illinois with her dog Linton.


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