Motes of my Mother.
By David Milligan-Croft.
As I popped open the lid of the cylinder,
A faint cloud of ash escaped from within.
Motes of my mother floated in the morning sun.
Drifting off into the atmosphere to settle who knows where.
Perhaps somewhere sunny, like Tahiti, she’d like that.
Or maybe just the bookshelf.
As I spooned some of her ashes into a small ceramic jar –
A keepsake for my daughter –
I felt the sudden urge to sneeze.
I froze momentarily, unsure whether to deposit her remains
Back into the large urn, or continue with my task,
And risk dropping some of her in the sink.
Or, worse still, blowing her onto the window.
I twisted my face to my shoulder
In order to stifle the impending sneeze
And lessen any resulting tremors.
It was while I was looking down
Into the larger urn that I wondered just how much
Of this ash was actually my mother. If, in fact,
Any of it was. How would I know if we had someone else’s ashes?
Would the remnants of her dna still cling to these dusty particles?
And, how much of the ash is human, and how much is coffin?
Do they take the brass fittings off first? Whose job is that?
If I dig deep enough, will I find a piece of shoe, or tooth, or bone?
So many questions.
Then I thought of my mother rolling her eyes and laughing
And saying, “Silly bugger.” Or something like that.
Then the urge to sneeze disappeared.
And I carefully continued spooning the ashes
Into the ceramic pot and gently closed the lid.
She’ll be safer with my daughter, I thought.