These immobilization fees
don’t cover what she does
with her left wrist. Flicks serifs
off letters the way she used to release
ashes from her smokes, the way
I might dismiss her
without understanding what she might be
building in that empty lot. April snow lasts
only so long—then she’ll write this off too.
This fat day,
with its bare branches, precedes no more
ashes for me.
Wipe foreheads, clocks, songs, stairs, smoke
stands, seeds, souls
down. Just for today. Tomorrow I still may
Three days later. Can’t sing anymore.
An uncle’s ashes scattered
from the Statue of Liberty. Nightmares
in daylight, cross out drunk—
write down sick. Expected rescue
does not come. Nothing
is wasted in this world—is a lie. A lump
of cold damp earth
in her hand. To the edge, she closes
her eyes, opens her hand. Thin
tinkle of a mandolin makes
a sad sound. Not from the common
Note: Contains phrases found or inspired by Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.
What she uses to wedge
beneath one leg to level
the table could be a match
book she no longer needs. Could be
a roll of used clichés she’s been saving
to stuff in his pipe. But it’s gone—ashes
have settled to the bottom
halfway across the country. The bowl
never held much to make it worth wasting
a light on. As for the rest, she’s busy
writing it down.
Don’t you want me
to dance on your grave?
These ashes could soothe
more than feet—could be
those dead man’s clothes
are yours now.