I have spent enough time in the last ten years burying people. Watching my loved ones bury people. And, from time to time, dealing with the mortality of my own parents. They’re still here, but this conversation has come up from time to time. I hope, that when I finally do reckon with a request like this–and not just as an intellectual exercise, but as the real and final duty of the living–I can handle it with as much grace and eloquence as Laurie Ann does here.

This is my colleague, my sister, and my homegirl from San Antonio. She is badass, serious, and altogether amazing. You need to own the book this poem comes from: A TONGUE IN THE MOUTH OF THE DYING.

My Mother Asks To Be Cremated

    No, she insists. After three funerals
    with no body to view, no slack plastic
    face to kiss one last time, no cold

    gray hand in which to place a rosary
    or belated letter of intent, she tells me
    please and don’t forget. She fears

    her sisters will fight me. They will.
    Some women have to see death this way–
    the hard birth of death. Some

    have to have the bloodless flesh
    to grasp as they drop to their knees,
    wailing. Some will use the death

    the way they used the life. I say
    give yourself to fire. I say let flames
    take the soft bone. I say I promise.

    -Laurie Ann Guerrero