The Plastic Box

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Final good-byes

Final good-byes

My brother’s ashes
(I only looked at them once
So my memory may not be accurate)
Were in a plastic bag
In a plastic box.
The bag was held shut
With a twist-tie that
I like to think was green,
The color of life.

The rectangular box —
Neither orange
Nor brown
The color of an October oak leaf —
Snapped shut
Like a pocket watch
Safely holding time inside.

It stood upright on the mantle
For at least year.

I whispered to it sometimes,
I miss you, Stewart.
But he didn’t answer.
He smiled placidly at me
From the photograph
Beside the box.

We placed it in the Columbarium —
It seems like only yesterday —
But it was rainy
And spring
Not frosty
And fall.

Tomorrow
The man will bring a new plastic box
Because my mother wouldn’t have wanted an urn
My younger brother joked
About Cool-Whip containers —
My mother would have liked that re-use

But I suppose it’s undignified
So she’ll have the box
That comes free
With cremation

She always appreciated a bargain.


I wrote this last year after my mother passed away.

Last week, my family gathered for her interment.

Her box was shiny and brown.

My middle brother said we should have brought tape and a Sharpie. We could label the outside of the container with the contents and a date, just like she did with the produce from her garden and the animals we sent to the slaughterhouse.

Nobody thought ahead for that.

So she is unlabelled in her niche.

Except where it’s carved in stone over top of her.

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