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Ash


ISSUE:  Fall 2006

And so I handed over my father’s box
of ashes, its odd white weight, the brick
of a life compacted there as if it gripped
the man inside it. Unsteady as a rock,

the way it wavered in the hole it entered
slowly, blindly, dipped into the balm
of shadow, the ashes’ last descending gesture
like a boy releasing his baffled palms.

Then it seemed to draw us in, to the wet
eye of broken earth that held us, gathered
closer, newly fathered by the quiet,
morning made strange by the cloud cover

of what we wore, by a mist that woke
out of the ground. Soon it was everywhere:
the exhalation of a night that walked
so long, so far, to stagger into the fire

of day, into the world inside the flame.
It was ours, this world, its dying wind
like a name set down in a field of names,
too heavy now to carry in our hands.

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