Susan L. Leary: “The Matryoshka Doll”

The Matryoshka Doll

I’m not that old. But lately, that has become
a significant word. Because my family
is planning their burial. Another afternoon
conversation on the phone. There’s only four
of us—myself, my husband, my parents,
so it should be easy. My mother wants us
buried like Matryoshka dolls, one inside
the other, a wooden womb. Three of us
will be cremated, and depending on who goes
first, any combination of ashes will do—
my husband with my father, my father with
my mother. I’m to live longest,
laid in my coffin a peasant girl or Soviet leader
or as the fairytale figure the innermost baby
sees in her dreams. And huddled within
the layers of linen will be all of life’s pretty
jars, however many there are. Such is the only
way we know to show love, to process that
it’s all going away. So we run happily,
if not humorously, to our graves, one by one
by one.


Susan L. Leary is a Lecturer in English Composition at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. Her most recent creative work appears or is forthcoming in Steel Toe Review, The Copperfield Review, After the Pause, and Verse-Virtual.

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