Dream of Burying My Grandmother Who Has No Grave

by Sharanya Manivannan

We buried her upright, in the stance of warriors.

    My brothers and I driving

out alone to do this, miles and miles

from the memory of warmth, lifting her

  small strong body out of the vehicle

and laying it down

beside the railway track. My gloved hand

brushing frost from her face in the

Siberian winter of a dream in which I

was my mother, and she, mine.


We buried her there without

ritual, lowering her slowly into a furrow,

covering her with fistfuls of ice, hurrying

against the long wail of the approaching train —

the engine of our car left

   running, our shaking hands, a sorrow

      blinding as snow. Near the end,

my brothers stepped away.

I was the last to see that dowager face.

 The sting of the ice from her forehead

 on my lips all the way back to waking.


Sometimes her love lights my body up

      from the inside out, a love like a good

  vodka. Grandmother whose body rose in

smoke, I carry your sweet burn within me

 even into this, the frozen tundra of a life

   with not a stone left standing

            to bear witness.