The Body in the Casket

Jacob Dimpsey


It was supposed to happen that the body in the casket would cease to be you. Your cracked-petal lips. Your wax paper skin and eyelids kept shut with textured contacts. I watched a YouTube video of a mortician explaining how he drains the blood before inflating the veins artificially with different colored fluids that, when kept in jugs, look like snow cone syrup from a distance.

We have a way of making everyone else’s deaths about ourselves, our eulogies like poetry and picture-perfect weeping worthy of Instagram. I couldn’t help but see myself in your casket, my dead skin overlaying your dead skin. Aren’t first-born daughters often most like their mothers? As much as I try not to become you, “I miss you” inevitably turns to “I’m next.”

I imagined myself half-empty, useful organs harvested, useless ones embalmed. I’m all dolled up, veins bulging with foul-smelling snow cone syrup. I’m told my body is just a vessel, that in death, life drains from the body and flows elsewhere. Though when I think about what I miss most about you, I can’t separate that from your body.

I see your fingers picking cornflowers in the yard, placing them in my hair, the creases in your forehead as you drove us into the desert and away from my father. I see your arms and your hips when you carried me upstairs to bed, your feet when you taught me how to dance before prom. The way you held your shoulders, which I mimicked when you taught me how to play the piano. So why shouldn’t I also climb into your casket alongside you and imitate the posture of death?

I kept thinking about how, in the hospital you said, “I’m sorry,” and reached out your hand and for the last time I touched you.


Jacob Dimpsey is a writer living in Central Pennsylvania. His work has previously appeared in the SFWP Quarterly and The Blood Pudding.




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