To sweeten the dish, add salt. To bear the pain,
render the insoluble. She envied

the past its incursions, yet the past yields to all,
avoidance to acceptance, trees to smoke.

My mother brought to this country a token of her death to come.

Now it sits on my shelf bearing implements of music.
In her last days I played Sakura on the mandolin,

trusting that she might find comfort
in the blossoms fluttering through the failing notes,

a return to mornings
of tea and rice, of
warmth and paper walls and deep laughter.

Today the rain spells forgive

and every idea becomes form, every shadow a symptom,
each gesture a word, a naming in silence.

Scatter me in air I’ve never breathed.

* * *

“Ashes,” first appeared in Extract(s) in 2013, was reprinted on The Reverie Poetry Journal, and is included in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.



12 thoughts on “Ashes

  1. Beautiful. Plus a couple of intrigues:
    token of her death to come … sits on my shelf bearing implements of music
    Scatter me in air I’ve never breathed
    (With all that’s swirling through the air I am stuck with currently, the thought of death as escape into less-tainted, less-oppressive, less-familiar air definitely appeals. Perhaps those near death can sense such? Perhaps this is their parting gift from the collective airs?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jazz. The first intrigue is quite simple. In the early 1950s my Mom and Dad were able to bring back to the U.S. from Japan only a handful of personal belongings. This particular item is an ash tray. It’s large, heavy, chipped and unattractive, but I treasure it for the connection. It holds various picks and slides, tuners, a harmonica and even a mandolin bridge. Mom never quit smoking, and died of lung cancer.

      The second intrigue could be an interest in “visiting” places I’ve never been to. But of course it’s more inclusive than that. Or so I hope.

      Liked by 1 person

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