Maryfrances Wagner: “Losing Cousin Carolyn”





Losing Cousin Carolyn

The news came via Facebook.  Simple Obit.
Immediate family only.  This is the age of Covid.
This is the time of dying alone.  Grieving alone.

We sat in a funeral home pew the last time I saw
Carolyn, cousins lined up together as we always are
when we say goodbye, in this case to our last uncle.

Despite opposite views, we shared a life together,
weddings, reunions, death.  A time to share family
stories or photos we found in a parent’s basement.

I imagine her sons graveside with their father,
no chairs, no flower sprays, no family circling them.
Her brother hundreds of miles away, kidneys failing.

I drive past the house where they lived when we
played Fish or paper dolls on her bedroom floor.
It seems so small.  The shutters and window box sag.

A vacant birdhouse sways near an empty feeder. A clump
of limp jonquils wave, and their old Dragon Blood Sedum
I loved pokes through the broken arms of a gargoyle.



About the Author: Maryfrances Wagner’s books include Salvatore’s Daughter, Light Subtracts Itself, Red Silk (Thorpe Menn Book Award for Literary Excellence), Dioramas, Pouf, The Silence of Red Glass, and The Immigrants’ New Camera. Poems have appeared in New Letters, Midwest Quarterly, Laurel Review, Natural Bridge, Voices in Italian Americana, Unsettling America:  An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry (Penguin Books), Literature Across Cultures (Pearson/Longman), Bearing Witness, The Dream Book, An Anthology of Writings by Italian American Women (American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation),  She co-edits I-70 Review and served as Missouri’s Individual Artist of the Year for 2020.


More by Maryfrances Wagner:

Dreaming Through Covid


Image Credit: Chase Dimock “Bird on Wire” (2020)

One thought on “Maryfrances Wagner: “Losing Cousin Carolyn”

  1. MaryFrancis, I can so relate to your poem, especially after finding out a couple of relatives had passed on Facebook or were going to move away. Sad but lovely poem.


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