cremation 1/2/3


my dad wants some of his ashes in the ocean
atlantic or pacific
it doesn’t matter
just put him where the naval carriers go
his blood so full of the sea breeze
it must be returned

I can keep some
he says
so when that day comes
I’ll listen to my urn to hear the waves
hitting against the hull
smell the salt and sweat
of a battleship
a home
my dad never fully left


my grandpa was burned with his comb
no words out of turn
no hair out of place
until the end
Tom Todd was a well dressed man
at the mortuary
his part was all wrong
so my grandma returned with his comb
to fix him up before the beyond
my mom and her siblings agreed
the comb was part of the deal
so they laid it down with him
now a part of him

each of them
with their tiny tombs full of ash
sitting on top of their fireplaces and mantles
can uncork it any time
to hear grandpa whistling through his teeth
from the master bath
as he combs his hair


my mom smiled when she talked about dying
at first she said she wanted to be cremated
where those ashes went
she didn’t care
said to throw in all remaining cartons of virginia slims we could find in the house
they’re meant to be on fire anyhow

as she snuck away from my father
she said she’d be fine just buried in the yard
if we could get away with it
it’s cheaper that way

my mother
forever the keeper of accounts
the planner of plans
when her day is done
I think she wants to let the wind take her
let the world play it by ear
and for once in her life
she’ll let the unknown do its job

I know bodies are temporary
an urn of ashes like a teddy bear on the shelf
but it’s funny how real
that bear can feel sometimes

I don’t care if my mom doesn’t care
I will keep her
those cigarette ashes
and I will tell her my secrets
I’ll listen to hear
like a genie in a bottle
as she says to me
“to-ri eliza-beth
my smart
beautiful girl”

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