Ash

Bury me in the deep snow.  Lay my ashes where the sun and the wind will uncover me.  The same breeze that carries the yellow dust of the goldenrod will unwind my grey remains and send them whirling into eternity.  All cares will be long gone as I drift to rest on tomato leaves and bicycle wheels, clinging to the pores of bricks, then sailing far out over green rivers.  As ash, I will never grow weary on my travels.  Some fine particles of me will be swallowed by mud, never to take to air again until the earth is turned by hands not yet formed.

Image

When they come to the base of the tree, my friends will remove their gloves and use their fingers to make a hole in the snow.  The cold will needle their knuckles. They’ll pause now and again to make fists and kindergarten turkeys of their fingers, opening and closing their hands to bring blood to the tips.  Finally they will pour in the ash and cover it over, quickly, lest the flirtatious gale of a winter morning should send me off sooner than I would like.

Their boots will make a soft crunch as they wend their way back through the field, to the small line of cars parked along the fence.  Black coats and white snow.  If we are lucky, there will be scarves of color to remind us that life is for the living: turquoise and yellow.  A breathtaking flash of carmine, flying like a rampart against the sky, would be a joyful sight.

In the weeks before the melt, I would hear the ice loosen at noon and tighten at dusk.  The tree above me, holding out her long, lovely bones to the sky, would say nothing.  Yet we would be friends for all those days and long after the spring breeze came to lead me on my next adventure.

The Boys Who Die

I miss the boys who died, knowing their inner sadness belongs to boys who both knew and yet never never knew how they were loved.  This is the work of a lifetime – be it a scant few years or a long stream of decades –  finding that we are liked, wanted and needed.  A part of us is always skeptical.  We try so hard to please, come up against our own fragility – grey dawns of the heart – and despair at our failings.  The moments of laughter, the warm press of a friendly hand, the sweet, but slipping smiles of friendships: these are all breezes that catch our sails and tug us farther along the sea of our journey.  These are tender moments, warm with the texture of knitted things, comforting like the scents of favorite soups and newly found desserts.  This is joy to pull us through bleakest despair and remind us that at the end of our worked days, we will see smiles we know again, share confidences and food and a pause while every nose recalls together that this is the smell of spring coming again.  This bittersweet lesson – learned when dear people pass from this world –  is found in the tears that come from knowing you can remember the timber of their voice but never hear it again and that you only got to say so many thank yous to ears like your own that could hear them.  Never hold back your applause, never be shy with praise and love.  The bitterest regrets are plaudits that fell away without being spoken and all the times that love was shamed into a muddier, cooler kind of warmth.