Juliana Gray

Bounded in a Nutshell


Late August, lying with a book
upon the sofa—what the summer should
have been. I'm trying to hold what's left of it.
My novel, too, is near its end, and so
I lie past comfort with the obese cat
atop my chest, trying to ignore
the yells of neighbor kids playing outside.

There. Put down the book, break the spell,
stare away at nothing—except my eyes
come to rest on the tiny wooden urn,
glossy and acorn-shaped, high on the shelf
where I haven't looked for a month. My share of ashes.
"He's not in that box," I said at the service;
so why am I crying now? I haven't opened
the urn, untwisted its cap. Is there a bag
inside? Is it sealed? Or are they loose,
sifting and reshaping like miniature dunes
each time I walk past, my head turned?
Why, why won't those children stop screaming?