He husbanded her ash for years; when the wind blew, he’d place some,
as if it were pollen and he a reverse bee,
upon a plant or low-hanging tree, and wait, downwind,
for its caress.
He would feel himself then weeping
into her hands, though it would seem to others
(if anyone had seen) just wind in his eyes.

But he worried as he aged
that he was using the ash too fast, that it wouldn’t last him, or worse–
and this was worse–
that he’d been self-indulgent with his machinations, and that in his wish to hold on to her, he’d never let her rest, that he had wrested her from
the singular life of ash, one eddying release, the possibility
of well-spring–

So he took the ash to a lake she’d loved
and sat there with the box–he’d never been able to transfer her
to an urn, she hated the taste
of metal–
which held inside the tied plastic, and inside that, the ash,
just sat there for some time,

with no leaves that could blow, just lake, and ripples of lake,

until he opened the box, the plastic, dipping palms into the soft remains,

until, not even looking–late for a lakeside–he pulled off shirt and shorts, and rubbed the ash like some tribal warrior over his thighs and calves, his knees and the backs of his knees, arms and belly, chest and shoulders, neck and nape of neck, and
his face.

He did cry–for her, for himself, and for the ridiculousness of himself, standing there not a warrior, on even a beach that was embarrassed, and the tears made rivulets
in the tightness of drying ash;

and he looked down at his legs, his torso, at the hair that was flattened by the ash, and at the hair that sprouted through the ashen mats, trying to feel something other than
the crusted rim of his own skin

until, slowly, he walked into the water, which took him aback with its warmth–

It was water that still held the day, water that held him too now with the day,
water where grey unwound.

© poem and photo, k. @ Manicddaily, all rights reserved

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