Ashes

by Rod Smith

The crematorium called to say my mother’s ashes were “ready.” I found the term somewhat amusing! Ready for what? And so I picked up the box, wrapped in brown paper (her name and the date were hand-printed on the box as if I was to deliver it to her) and took it home. I couldn’t immediately bring myself to perform the priestly act of dispersal and so it was months before I retrieved them from a dark corner under my bed.

One morning, and I am not completely sure what compelled me to do it on this particular morning, I made my way to the Japanese Gardens she loved and chose a spot I considered beautiful and held the box to my chest and waited to begin this sacred task.

Surprising myself, a little like a child playing in beach sand, I sprinkled her dust gently into the wind and felt none of the expected terror. Rather, I was reminded of the talcum powder she so liberally used in the steamy bathroom of runny mirrors, slippery floors, and twisted towels. I could even smell it.

Sandy remains powdered my hands and fell easily through my fingers to the buffalo grass around my feet.

Then I threw the drab box and its wrapping into a bin attached to a nearby tree and broke into a steady jog toward my car and cried all the way home. The closer I got the more my chest heaved, my body rocked and my throat clogged with phlegm, so I stopped at a firebreak in the sugar cane fields to vomit.

Spreading mother’s ashes was easier than I thought. I should have done it sooner.

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