You see, the dogwood I was familiar with had four squat leaves and rested on the ground like a frog preparing to jump, hunkering close to the twigs and moss, so when I saw it in a tree, six feet from the earth like it was nothing, I did not believe it. I said that looks like dogwood, and they said it was, but I did not believe.
Six distractions beyond the tree-that-was-not-dogwood, into the Boston graveyard, Jane mentioned that they made all the new coffins impermeable. I chimed in like a child, in the “yes and—“ way I thought I abandoned on the boat with my pigtails. Of course, it was because old coffins used to collapse and how dare decomposition look anything less than uniform?
Over cold chicken at her placematted table, the conversation turned to school, and I swore because I wanted to convey the fire in my chest. My mother had to defend me to Jane’s wide eyes because in a backward world where corpses are not allowed to return to the earth, we use all of the language we have.
There are no picket fences sectioning off our table from darker moods, for no matter the elevation, or what company you keep, dogwood is still poisonous, and people are still impermanent, and the world is far from perfect.
Carmen Gordon-Rein is a student of the Alaska Middle College School. She has done a lot of living in sixteen years and plans to continue in that fashion. The things she enjoys most in the world are the small sounds people sometimes make when listening to her work.