December 28, 2017 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Lindsay Henwood photo



Yvonne Higgins Leach





If You Die Alone And Your Body Unclaimed

Pray It Happens In Pierce County, Washington



Your local government takes over.

Late August, the patrol boat

motors out, the cremated remains of fifty-five

residents stored at the feet of the medical examiner.


The staffer knows it’s time to stall,

the haloed head of Mount Rainier towering,

a cerulean horizon perfectly seamed

between water and sky.


All that is known:

name, age, and death date

recited from the hospice chaplain’s lips.

Each time, a staffer rings a small bell.


The death investigator recounts

his failures to find family.

Other staffers shake the plastic bags,

ash and knots of bone hit the water


like gravel scattering across pavement.

It’s as if, tongueless, they say

one last time

Here I am.


The last cloud of ash-mist floats

in a ragged circle above the boat.

The boat leans away from mended water.

A good day’s work.






Yvonne Higgins Leach

Yvonne Higgins Leach is the author of Another Autumn (WordTech Editions, 2014). Her poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies including The South Carolina Review, South Dakota Review, Spoon River Review and POEM. A native of Washington state, she earned a Master of Fine Arts from Eastern Washington University. She spent decades balancing a career in communications and public relations, raising a family, and pursuing her love of writing poetry. Now a full-time poet, she splits her time living on Vashon Island and in Spokane, Washington. For more information, visit www.yvonnehigginsleach.com

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