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What Is Urned

by Diane Funston

The Egyptians placed organs in Canopic jars

before the mummification of kings.

Heart, liver, brain, those tangled parts

that make up physical life

sealed in urns with carved heads

of jackal, falcon, cat and cobra.

I place signs of past life in one wooden box.

Poetry events, photographs, treasures

we discovered over two decades.

Times when we were younger, busier, 

when I was lonely for adult voices

who, I believed, could carry the same joyful song.

The melody became a dirge from your end. 

Sealed inside the box you isolated, as was your choice.

My vision of our union, cremated. 

I traveled to mountains, to desert and back,

explored other continents and cultures,

across the country and home again.

You remained in the box, barely rattling.

It grew comfortable in your myopic view.

I listened for discomfort from your chains

but heard instead vivid description of your four walls,

the stunted view out the seams of a pale horse coming. 

You never asked how I was doing with my wings

crudely but temporarily clipped from old ghosts of melancholy. 

After all, I flew over an ocean to dry your tears.

listened to stories I already knew by heart.

I was the first person you saw after surgical sleep.

You crawled back in the box dazed with recovery. 

Now I shut the box and tuck it behind 

clothes that no longer fit, with old music of protest.  

I take it out on occasion to remind me

how loss smells so similar 

to stale mothballs. 


Diane Funston has been published in journals including California Quarterly, Synkronicity, San Diego Poetry AnnualF(r)iction, Tule Review, and Lake Affect Magazine among others.

She lives in the agricultural Sacramento Valley of California with her husband and two dogs.

Diane’s chapbook, her first, entitled Over The Falls from Foothills Publishing, was born in 2022.


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