Issue 1
Cleansing My Mother’s Cold Body

Cleansing My Mother’s Cold Body

Someone would have to do it, but I knew that it couldn’t be me.
I was her only daughter, her only child, her closest kin. For nights,
I dreamed the expression she would have made when men unzipped
her body bag, lifted her onto that metal without warming
it first. They might eat a sandwich then. They might call it a night.

They were professionals. They did this all the time. They would say
she cannot feel temperature anymore. And I would wonder where she was
and what she knew of light and humidity and circulating air, if all that
knowledge leaves us and we have to begin again. She would have nothing
on—this woman with three closets full of good things she can’t wear anymore

and she would be alone in this chill without anyone with her and I
didn’t know the new rules in this convoluted world of death. And no one
would tell me what I needed to know. I had taken off her earrings and put them
on my ears. I had kissed her on her cheeks, moisturized her lips. I had told her
that I loved her, that I would, one day, be okay. But I couldn’t decide

what she would want for all eternity—the muu-muu, the sackcloth, the shroud…

Jacqueline Jones LaMon is the author of two award-winning collections of poetry, most recently, Last Seen (University of Wisconsin Press), and a novel, In the Arms of One Who Loves Me (Ballantine Books). An Associate Professor at Adelphi University, where she teaches in the MFA program, she has received fellowships from Yaddo Foundation, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, among others. She serves as the President of Cave Canem Foundation, Inc., and lives in Brooklyn, New York.