Scattering My Father’s Ashes
in the Intracoastal Waterway
from the Southern Boulevard Bridge
Death is remarkably thorough.
In the end, your life is nothing
but unpaid bills, some dirty dishes
and donations to Goodwill.
I’m the one who tidies up.
Cleaning is my keening,
I make piles, not your pyre;
professionals fuel that fire.
But I toss you, and you’re a streak
of ash, writing in the open air
above the water, I was here,
you sons of bitches, I was here.
And for a moment, you are:
an updraft lifts you, your grit
gets in my nostrils and leaves
a bitter taste in my mouth.
One last moment together, and
the closest we’ve ever been.
Then the wind shifts, and it’s over.
My throat clears; you pass away.
You’re back to dust, and I’m the guy
who’s left to sweep up after.
Life lurches back into motion;
traffic chugs across the bridge.
The Silk Flowers
I never meant for the flowers to occupy the living room.
It started innocently enough: I wanted peonies. They bloom
so briefly in spring. You see them one day, clutching their petals
to their fat pink heads like miserly babushkas; then
the next, they’ve gone all slack, the tongues
of drunken sluggards, lolling about the florist’s bins.
Silk, I thought, and trimmed their perfect plastic stems.
They perch above the rim of a lilac-colored vase,
pretty mademoiselles in their fancy foulards.
I let them strut. My guests admire them.
But I had another vase – short and stout and yellow as an onion.
It was calling for a few hydrangeas, the purple-and-blue,
though I knew they’d chatter like a slew of darting starlings,
blathering their profusion of blooms in anxious confession.
The peonies looked down on them.
Then there was this winter, grey and endless as a toothache
in the night. I pined for something bright and cheerful –
branches of silk cherry blossoms in a slender sky-blue vase
and their yellow calla lily friends in pink fiesta ware,
bravely blaring fanfares at the January air.
The credenza is too put upon with flowers now.
I watch them closely for signs of movement
toward the other furniture. They know it, and they wait
in their silk pajamas, patient and obstinately perennial.
Don Hogle is a brand and marketing communications strategist and travel blogger living in New York. He has poetry forthcoming in Mud Season Review from the Burlington Writers’ Workshop.