Ashes of the Past

She wrapped the plate(circa 1930, daffodils on square ivory china)

in newsprint; a face, an old face (circa 1935, female in black and white)

stared from the paper and disappeared as the clerk swathed the dish

like newborn babe.

I stood bemused at the juxtaposition:

new life for the plat, perhaps, its usefulness extended, wrapped

in the notice of a life expended, chronicled in recycled print

and carried home to be cremated in the fire that warms my home.


Death is, you know. It just is.

It comes when it will. We leave, unknowing

if we might be remembered in transitory print,

mourned for three days and then back to work because the personnel policy

only allows three days for deaths. And then someone,

someone like me, buys a plate in a secondhand store

and my obituary is wrapped

around chipped china while the stranger

stares at my face, reads my name, wonders who I was

and then sends my memory up in smoke

to mingle in the miasma of other fires, other souls

winding their confused way in the hereafter

up and up, thinner and thinner as the smoke ascends

past planets and stars to where heaven might be, if one believes,

or to the place where souls are recycled and come back again,

a cat in tiger body, a dog as prowling bear.


I smooth the paper and for the wrinkled face I wish

the soaring freedom of a singing bird.

The paper catches, burns and wisps away

leaving ashes of the past.



About grannysu

storyteller, writer, poet, gardener, countrywoman
This entry was posted in People. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Ashes of the Past

  1. Mamabug says:

    Such wonderful thoughts; gave me something to think upon this afternoon.

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