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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 19: 15 Aug. 2023
Poem: 159 words
By Roseanne Freed

If Grief Is Inside Us, Who Can Measure
the Grief of Another?

Why do I wear black to a funeral 
and white to get married? 

Why do you wear white to a funeral 
and your wedding dress is red? 

If wearing white in Asia is a sign of purity 
and rebirth, why do widows wear purple 

in Thailand, and yellow in Egypt, and Mexico? 
Am I copying Queen Victoria when I wear black? 

Who made the rule that only the bride 
can wear red at Chinese weddings? 

We all wore red—her favorite color—to her funeral. 
Why is it forbidden at Chinese funerals? 

Which leaves fall off the tree? 
Yellow or red? 

Why are ghosts white? 
What color are skeletons? Why are they scary? 

When I cried for help in my sleep last night, 
who was I crying for? 

Why is my grief so unbearable? 
Would having a gravestone help me mourn? 


—With thanks to Shelly Holder *

* Publisher’s Note (approved by the author):

In a recent letter, Roseanne Freed wrote me about a writing workshop she took, in which one of the assignments was to use a line from a fellow participant’s poem to create a new poem. Roseanne selected “I asked my aunt today whether / the gravestone helped her mourn” near the beginning of an untitled narrative poem by Shelly Holder, and was inspired to write the haunting elegy above.

Roseanne Freed
Issue 19 (15 August 2023)

grew up in apartheid South Africa and now lives with her husband in California. She had many fascinating encounters with tourists from all over the world during the years she worked at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Blue Heron Review, Contrary Magazine, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Naugatuck River Review, ONE ART, Silver Birch Press, Verse-Virtual, and Writing in a Woman’s Voice, among others. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

The Stranger (23 February 2023) by Roseanne Freed in ONE ART

Where are you from? in Verse-Virtual (July 2022)

Signs read by Rosie on YouTube (25 January 2021)

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