funeral for my grandmother in which i drink tea for the first time

i sip a chimney of smoke in

bury my feet beneath

remember that to burn
            incense is to

marry our martyrs with

my grandmother’s grave melts in
            plum wine

a tablespoon of jasmine dimpling
            over grass

you know she died with

on her chin as if kissed to death by
            a drunk and

isn’t it more beautiful to die

than to die with your throat
            scribbled out?

maybe it explains why we wash granite
            with alcohol

why we funnel fog into

carry fire extinguishers with rust-
            sullen buckets to

bake money for the

who knew a shortness of

would be a period in

            i laughed during the funeral because i
            didn’t yet know the permanence of

                        just the sorrow
                        of solitude

                        i imagine

            my grandmother tunneling through
            a swallow of sunset and God’s
            jugular a slash in the horizon

                        the moon unspools night
                        etched out in white and i –

over the open casket my mother cries
            jade tears

we sit praying over a prism
            of dirt

inside me my ancestors eat
            out my lungs

i wish i knew what else to do
            but laugh

Josephine Wu is a sophomore at Georgetown University, where she is a Lannan Fellow studying English and Government. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in Kalopsia Literary Journal, Bitter Fruit Review, and Dishsoap Quarterly. She has also been recognized as an Adroit Commended Finalist for prose and nominated for a Best of the Net in poetry. You can find the full collection of her work at

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1 Response to funeral for my grandmother in which i drink tea for the first time

  1. ljjanes says:

    I absolutely love the phrase “kissed to death by a drunk“. I will remember that one.

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