Emma Johnson-Rivard


Funerals turn chemical, bureaucratic. I shift, remembering all the
paper flowers. One day I, too, will be in the business of dying.
Now it’s all political. I burned the dog, but buried the cat.
A girlfriend asked if she ought to remember that later. The distinction.
I told her about getting bone chips under my nails, the dust of it,
but she said that wasn’t the point.
Carry a shovel and you have to bear the weight of it all,
but no one told me about the ashes.

Even so, I would like to be spread when I go.
I would like to go everywhere.

I’m told this is insufficiently Catholic.
The cousins point out we are tombstone people
and I, unfortunate atheist, should not question the formaldehyde.
It’s acceptable being a lesbian but these dying rites are stone, unmovable.
It’s a matter of souls now. This is offered as a comfort to me.

My mother talks about donating her body to science.
The university handles it all.
This seems reasonable to me.

A friend told me about green funerals, a body left to roses.
Flowers blooming for a marker. Beautiful at the end.

Death becomes
politics, planning


In the end, I will be

on the air
and underfoot

About the Author

Emma Johnson-Rivard received her Master’s in creative writing at Hamline University. Her work has appeared in Tales to Terrify, Coffin Bell, and others. She currently serves as an editor at The Common Tongue, a dark fantasy magazine.