Earth to Earth

You would have loved the simple maple box.
Corners smoothed and lid sealed tight,
we haven’t tried to pry it open yet.
It weighs more than I would have guessed,
holding all that’s left of what was you.
Not your loves, your laugh, the things you always
said, but the dust to which we all return.
We’ve moved you from house to house over
the years, finding a new shelf in each new state.
Simpler to take you with us in the end
than to settle on somewhere to pick a site.
You had asked for Switzerland, to say farewell
where you were born, but it’s hard to leave you
in a place none of the rest of us called home.

Wynne Morrison practices pediatric palliative care and critical care at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is an associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care.

About the Poem

“This poem arose out of thoughts about how funeral rituals change in our modern, mobile society. I remember as a child visiting the cemetery where many relatives were buried. We now live far away from where I grew up, and haven’t quite decided what a long-term home will be for the ashes of loved ones we carry with us.”

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4 thoughts on “Earth to Earth”

  1. Helen Swearingen

    Thank you. So true. We are scattered now. The family plots are scattered too.

    Just. Thank you for this poetry. The closest language to our grief.

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