Ashes to Dust

I tried to climb the steps
only to discover there were
no steps to climb.
I guess the gravity of it all
wanted to pull me through
the floor
And down to the dirt your ashes
scattered are now a part of
as of yesterday.

I rewound my mind
to the leadfoot steps of
my feet dressed in their argyle socks,
my boots discarded at the entry way,
crossing the spotless tile and
pristine white carpet of your dining area
into the brown, rough carpet
of your sun room
where you once sat in your chair
king of the manor,
man of the house,
Proper-dressed patriarch of our
Oddly mixed, loud and loving clan
That’s how I knew you best.

You were the chairman of the board,
the company owner,
the man with pull and money to burn
but you were never proud
never flaunted the bills
you kept clutched together on your
money clip.
Perhaps I exaggerate the extent of your wealth
but I never knew how much you had
and so I still guess and
in my head
I play it up like you always had
rolls of freshly pressed and printed dough
in your pocket that you’d used to
spoil your wife and your grandchildren
And I had a lot respect for the work that you did
Owning business since you were
fresh out of high school
Always humbly and diligently making sure
your family was always provided for
through divorce and remarriage
And life, love,
madness, sadness, happiness
This was what you were best at.

You spread the love of golf like
it was in our genes
We used to go all the time
and I’d always here stories like
how you went out in the rain
or when you were sick and
should be in bed, when you
were running a fever and
when you were more than half dead
That’s where you were calm
… Usually.

So, in all that active movement
and in all that business transacting
It caught us all by the nape of the neck
and a slap in the face
when the cancer got you.
And slowly wrung you dry
Until the links were a distant memory
and even a walker was not enough assistance
to keep you ambulatory
And your castle
become a hospital,
your throne,
a bed
and as time wore on your paperskin
clung tight to your cancerriddenbones
until one night I knew it was
soon to be goodbye

When you asked me to serve communion
I humbly took up the task
With a bottle of wine and
some boxed-up crackers
My hands shaking from the nerves
I poured out glasses
Read scripture to set the tone
about the resurrection we all
long for
In the deepest recesses I guess
I knew that your timer was ticking down
This was the last supper I would serve you
And somehow I knew you were
proud of me, somehow I knew
You needed to go

And I could feel the sand
bury this moment in the hourglass, tipped
Lifting you up like a little baby
turning you over with the help
of your oldest grandchild
Trying to get you into a
form-fitting position so you could finally


On the morning before the
start of the new year
I woke to a hand on my chest
telling me, gently, that I needed to
I opened my eyes to see my Dad’s face
and I knew before he opened his mouth again
You were gone.

I shed no tears
though they tried their best
to crawl out from the corners of my eyes
Drawing strength from the arrhythmia in my chest
Attempting to punch holes
where my tear ducts could have simply let go
But I stayed strong for you
and for my family
because I know you grasped eternity
and held tight through the slipping away
of your life
until you met the King of Kings
sat upon his throne
smiling at the childlike wonder in your face
and welcoming you

It was really hard to look at that shell kept in that box
No life, no breath, no smile, no soul.
No. Soul.
Just a droopy, made-up wax facsimile
eyes closed and arms crossed
with glasses perfectly placed,
suit perfectly pressed
But we all knew that wasn’t you.

So, now.
Six months after we had to say goodbye
We took your ashes to the
one place that made sense
and that was the fairgrounds you
loved for a long time, your baby
when all your kids got gone
And I wondered about the story of Adam
Man created from the dust
And so you were
And he toiled in the dust
and so did you.
And when you finally took your final breath
you were reduced to dust
And to the dust your body returned.
As the rest of us yearn
for resurrection.


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