In Taylor Fang’s “After the Funeral,” grief is objectified. The poem’s first line, “I bring back everything I find,” is an apt descriptor for the work of the piece, only Fang goes deeper. Does taking things from the meadow, the outer world, endow responsibility? “How little I knew then/about the bitter destruction/I kept in my hands.” Maybe aging is learning of this tendency, this will, to destroy. Maybe part of loss, grief, is the desire to counteract destruction. “I pick out her ring/and slip it onto my finger.” The desire to protect our memories, and the objects that hold them. – Robert Auld
After the Funeral
I bring back everything I find
in the meadow by the house
that I grew up in
and pour it on the table.
The coffee cake, shoved sideways,
dangles over an edge.
Once, I stuck a steak knife
between two slats
on the shiplap siding of this place.
How little I knew then
about the bitter destruction
I kept in my hands.
I try to forget the days
when I wanted to die,
or become blonde, or pour flour
from the skies, covering my mouth
like dust. I press my wildflower
wounds between pages.
Last summer blooms
through the cover—
the open window, mother saying
someday you’ll thank me
and all the surrenders that came out of my mouth.
I nod. The room grows cold
around me, around this place
that will soon carry new people
and new hands
to grease the doorknobs
with their leaving.
Keys and shards of glass glitter
against wood. I pick out her ring
and slip it onto my finger. The rest
lays in waiting—
an open field of waste.
Taylor Fang lives in Utah. Her poetry appears in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Cargoes, and Rookie Magazine, among others, and has been recognized by the Poetry Society UK. She enjoys playing the piano and spending time outdoors
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Quest B (South Spencer HS, Rockport, IN); Donald Berg (Kirksville HS, Kirksville, MO); Olivia Bramante (Methuen HS, Methuen, MA); Teddi Haynes (Orange County School of the Arts, Santa Ana, CA); Jeremy Hsiao (California School of the Arts, Duarte, CA); Sarah Lao (Westminster School, Atlanta, GA); Lia Marisol Portillo (South Lafourche HS, Cut Off, LA); Sarah Street (Westminster School, Atlanta, GA); Violet Tabacco (Montpelier HS, Montpelier, VT); Anna Wang (Adlai E. Stevenson HS, Lincolnshire, IL); Stephanie Yen (Beachwood HS, Beachwood, OH); Katia Camargo, Zoey Ruzic, Serena Lozandi (Miami Arts Charter School, Miami, FL)