55. Columbarium Garden

Winner of the Kansas Poetry Month contest: bright skies or blossom (professional category)

Cold sun brings this mourning season to an end

one year since my mother’s death. Last winter thaw

my brother shoveled clay-dirt, she called it gumbo,

over powdery substance the crematorium sent us

not her, but fine, lightened granules—all else

rendered into invisible elements. That handful

from the pouch, un-boxed, was tucked into plotted soil,

the churchyard columbarium, under a brass plaque

and brick retaining wall, scant semblance of permanence.

Now my mother is a garden—lilies and chrysanthemums

feeding from that slight, dampened, decomposing ash.

Her voice stilled. One ruddy robin in the grass, dipping.

— Denise Low


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