the spreading of ashes

by dm gillis

they were heavier than I thought they’d be, the ashes I mean
5 pounds each perhaps, in their practical containers
(you might think urns but don’t)
and I left the little grove with traces of my mother and sister on my shoes
wondering if it was correct to brush them off

it rained heavily like so many novels I’ve read
but we gave up our umbrellas the
spreading of ashes being a hands-on task, after all
and when the now purely mineral burdens
they’d left behind
lay beneath the cedar pines and rhododendron
I—the family braggadocio with only contempt for all things
and a deep fear he loves nothing—
improvised some words in a downpour
choosing not to say that I’d already discovered
the room where they both now sat
happily at a gentle spring-time window