The First Real Funeral

Emma Crockford explores the connection between mourning and childhood, through the alluring analogy of snake skin.

You grieved for the skin we found stuck to the sidewalk;

not knowing the garden snakes were only molting,

like boys running towards the water, their elbows popping out of T-shirt sleeves.

 

At nine and a half in dress up clothes on basement steps, we held mass like Priests.

Wearing Father’s ties, you wrote eulogies for everything that tasted like tragedy.

We learned to mourn on Saturday mornings, in bare feet with dirty hands,

planting tulip bulbs upside down in Mother’s garden.

 

I am buttoning my black coat to my chin, standing in the kitchen,

feeling your silence on my skin.

I am at the corner of your grief, and you are

somewhere in the middle of its country,

in the middle of his absence,

small again.

 

At night, I wake up and I am close enough for a minute

to hear the boys, sixteen, and calling to the shore

The night they raced to the water.

I dig my feet into the cold sand and watch them

spitting salt water from their cheeks.

Children with sunburns peeling down their backs.

Sea snakes, shedding their skin.

 

 

 

 

Emma Crockford is currently a sophomore at Rising Tide Charter Public School in Massachusetts. Her interests include goats that look like old men, and dogs that look like their owners. In the summer of 2014, Emma was the recipient of Stonehill College’s advanced studies program for teen’s Creative Writing Award. In 2015, She was chosen to attend the Grubstreet Young Adult Writer’s Fellowship. She is the founder and editor of her high school newspaper. Emma’s work has appeared in The Noisy Island, Teen Ink’s Print Magazine, and Grub Street’s Fellowship Anthology.

Art by Fiona McDonald

Town

In her winning piece for Parallax’s Horror Contest, Eleonora Beran-Jahn takes us into the world of a mysterious small town where the night brings more than just the moon out. Also congratulations to Hannah Hardy whose art won first place in the Visual Art – Parallax Halloween Horror Contest.

This is a town whose colors crawl from the shadows
Of nicks and corners.
Dust rolls up
The encapsulating outer walls of the town every other Tuesday,
The walls are 100 feet tall and there is no wind here
Ever.
Peter and Lee are getting married
In the Jonsons’ inn on the west side of town:
Date, unknown.
I have never met Peter, Lee or the Jonsons,
Nor have I ever been driven to count
The number of rocks that make up the city’s walls.
The graveyard is very beautiful
When the sun peeks through the angry gray brushstrokes
That people call clouds,
All of the flowers are the same color.

The town holds a meeting every year
To determine how many people live
Within our protecting walls,
I do the headcount, the number is always
25.
No one really knows
What their neighbor’s face looks like;
No one really cares
To try and paint portraits around here.
There are just as many alchemists
As there are mercenaries in this place,
There is no jail,
And both services cost the same.
The Jonsons open the inn at 7 am and close at 12 am,
Just in time to prevent Richard from walking in
Pushing an empty stroller.
The bar is open 24/7.

Scratch that,
There are 26
People in this town,
James lives down in the well,
He gives us water and we breathe him air.
The church’s people have had to move the chapel
12 feet East every year
To make more room for the cemetery.
Its been 70 years since I tried to leave this place,
I am the sheriff,
Business here is slow, the undertaker gets more business than I do.
There are always 26 people,
Everyone else
Never stays “around” for long.

Sometimes I can hear ‘everyone else’ sing,
Their monotone pitch of pain gives roses their rose.
It is January when they gain strength
And melody turns into the screeching
Of nails drawing against wood.
It must be beautiful what they do
In their tortured years bellow the dirt.
Once James murmured me to help them,
He said their noise was making him cold.
I told him I couldn’t
For shattered throat moans are not considered my jurisdiction.

By Eleonora Beran Jahn

Artwork by Hannah Hardy.
“Self Portrait,” Parallax Horror Contest Winner