The Dead Won't Tell

by Angela Rydell

She told me she crawled inside the hearse when grandma died, slammed the doors because she needed doors to close, so she could get away. The dead are quiet, the dead won’t tell. There was a man there, a neighbor man who liked his tiny strawberry, liked to baby-sit little red-haired girls that tasted like sweet red strawberry. He had large hands and used them, then said, “Now keep your mouth shut, no one wants to hear.” We were eight. I wanted to laugh, knew a song she liked to sing, "The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, the worms play pinochle on your snout," and sang it thinking about how a man could make a girl turn her body the color and flavor of strawberry, and ran away to touch the slick bodies of flowers at the edge of the playground — tulips rising up a bright raw red.


Angela Rydell has work published or forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly, Poet Lore, Poets & Writers and other journals. She is a recipient of Poets & Writers’ Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award and holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College.