about the author

Mary Stone is the author of the poetry collections One Last Cigarette and Mythology of Touch, and a number of chapbooks, including Honey and Bandages, a collaborative chapbook written with Katie Longofono, and The Dopamine Letters (Hyacinth Girl Press). Her poetry and prose has appeared in Gargoyle, Arts & Letters, South Dakota Review, Stirring, and other journals. Currently, she lives, writes, and teaches in St. Joseph, MO, where she coordinates the First Thursday open mic reading series.

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[Jennifer Requests an Open Casket]

Mary Stone

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She dies on a Thursday on I-70 after rolling
her pick-up truck into oncoming traffic.
Police find four deer carcasses tossed
from the bed, Jennifer’s arms and cheeks covered
in the blood of road kill, used syringes
and a blood-smeared will written
on the back of a map of Kansas.
The medical examiner records his findings,
a once fractured tibia and collarbone,
new bruises blackening her right hip.
The tox screen comes back inconclusive
and family members light candles in the hospital
hallway, pouring melted wax into their mouths
before identifying Jennifer through the window.
Her mother can’t be at the funeral
because her mother is a dead woman
in the local rehab, trading cigarettes for Lortabs.
Her father wants to go, but he won’t face
Jennifer’s Uncle Scott, the family hero,
who starts drinking as soon as he sees
the wreck on the morning news.
Scott posts pictures of his niece on Facebook.
He misspells her name and tells the world
he is so sad. Jennifer’s father
takes pictures of the wrecked truck
and takes the deer in for processing—
no need to waste good venison.
He thanks his daughter for the gift
and cleans his gun during the service.

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