Her Ashes In My Hands
By Susa Silvermarie
I stand here in the roar of the sea and the cold blow of autumn with her ashes in my hands. Her ashes, hers, in a carved box. How can she be in a box. I stand here on the bluff at dusk, under a sky that races its clouds towards the horizon, where rays burst from the sun that has sunk below. The sandy grass under my boots might yet go soft and swallow me. I am alone with all the world around my body pressing me upright. I can think of nothing, nothing but the presence of her/not/here. I must scatter what remains of the one who has been my heart. How can I surrender what is left?
But she asked me, she, she asked me to give her back. Back to the great sea of her own dream, to her own watery nature.
My legs hold me up despite my sinking, sinking into loss. My hands cradle the carved box. The salty air won’t yet let me stop breathing. It stings me as awake as I have ever been.
Yes. I will do this thing for her, this last thing. This last thing she wanted from me. I straighten my tired back. I lift my chin. I raise the box as high as I can, offering it, offering back the great gift. Seagulls swoop from behind me toward the waves. Seagulls, the birds she loved, bend their cries into the whipping wind. My cap blows into the sea.
I do not know how to let her go.
I bring the box to my heart. I must let her fly, but I bring the box one last time to my heart. I open it! In a single gust, the wind lifts her ashes up, the wind carries her home over the last edge, the wind carries her back to the waters. My mouth is open, my eyes are streaming, her ashes whirl away from me.
I drop the box and reach my arms wide. I reach, reach out, to the wide horizon.