Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Mud and Ash

‘Those grass blades were his eyelashes,’ I’d say,
Pointing to the soil.
‘Those big, bright lilies, probably
‘His teeth, broad, blinding.
‘He was impulsive, could be sharp,’
I’d say. ‘See those brambles?
‘Probably his tongue.’
She’d squirm, I know, at my words.
Embarrassed by this display of
Posthumous sibling rivalry.

You came ten years too late.
No use to me as a playmate, shrivelled and squalling,
The one whose ears, my crying, recently-widowed mother
Whispered a name into, thrice on each side.
And now, 25 years on, you’re ash,
Tied up in a square of red cotton,
Which the cousin warned us
Had to be kept near a lighted lamp.
I did that.
Mother, in her raging grief, 
Refused, politely, that ritual relief.

A burial might have been better.
Something of you that we could still see,
Some mud, tinged maroon
With your drying blood.
Mud we would sift through fingers
Seeking, really, the brown comfort of your hands;
Mud we could gaze upon with eyes
Seeking your smile, those flashing eyes,
That sudden laugh.

‘Those grass blades were his eyelashes,’ I’d say,
But now, all I know is that the wind
And the waters took your ashes,
Benign, insignificant, of no weight.
So different from everything
We ever knew
About you.