At The Spreading of Your Ashes

January 18, 2011
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At the spreading of your ashes—
As two of your sons removed a bag from a small box,
I shuddered.
My papaw in a bag, discarded like waste.
We all hung our heads low, crying toward
the water.
You loved the way the river looked,
one minute smooth like glass,
the next, rough and unpredictable.
You worked your whole life on that boat
with calloused hands and parched skin raw from rope
burns and heat.
But when it came time to bid the final farewell,
it was as though someone had released a bag of winds.
I had to let you go.
I watched you poured from the bag—
the ashes scattering in mid-air,
painting the surface of the rolling waves,
and melting into the river.

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