Cartouche (for Julia) – Joan Glass

Cartouche (for Julia)

When you died,
mom insisted we remove
every photo from the walls.
Not just the ones with you in them,
but also of me and my children.
And your children.

Next, she invited friends
to take your belongings:
a new set of dishes, your perfume,
a book you inscribed with your name
in high school, the little “a”
at the end of “Julia,”
still tender and intact.

Ancient Egyptians believed
that to cross over into the Land of Two Fields,
your heart must be light as a feather,
and your name cast onto stone,
for this means you were loved.
I practice inscribing your name,
leaving it anywhere
that feels permanent.
I press your handwriting
into papyrus wings.

Mom motions toward me
with outstretched hands,
offering up a handful of your jewelry,
as if to say, here take these
before they break
or are stolen from us.
Hold them in your hands.
Pretend that something,
other than her absence,
can endure.

Joan Glass‘s poems have appeared in The Missing Slate, Rise Up Review, Vagabond City Lit, TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism, Literary Mama, Bone Parade, Easy Street, and Right Hand Pointing, among others.  Her poem “Bathing Scene” was featured on the Saturday Poetry Series: Poetry as it Ought to Be.  She lives in Milford, Connecticut.

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