Poem 363 ± June 1, 2016

Nancy L. Meyer
The Jar

When a mother is so old
When a mother is so old
When she insists she is done
yet breathes on and on,
on and on. Then, at last,

The Chinese jar squats on my desk,
your ginger jar, colors more green
than orange, painted women raise
fingers mittened under kimonos.

My fingers scrub the candied ginger
out of the jar
sift your ashes
into the small opening.
In the grey powder, black wafer, sharp?
A toe tag. Leave it.
Place the jar, white and green,
on your grandmother’s oval tray,
birds-eye maple, color of caramel.
Set the two on my desk.

You are not here—

Birdseed sticks to the squirrel piss on your railing.
This morning of your Memorial,
I finish reading H is for Hawk
and a baby hawk hits our window, falls to the slate,
yellow talons raised, pointless.
We lay him on the table.

The dress I choose is printed with birds.
200 wait on folding chairs
in Bjornson Hall.
My eulogy takes 19 minutes.
We sing you out the door.
We sing Haul Away Joe, haul, haul away.
Everyone pulls on the bowline
and we sing you away.

I keep you
in the green, orange jar.


nancy l. meyerNancy L. Meyer’s work has appeared in Colorado Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Bitterzoet, Poet’s Touchstone, Wordland, and Kneel Downe’s Stolen Indie as well as five anthologies. New work is forthcoming in Bitterzoet Magazine and Persimmon Tree. Nancy was a finalist in the New Orleans Poetry Festival 2016. Avid cyclist, grandmother of 5, and End of Life Counselor, Nancy lives in Portola Valley, Calif.

This poem is not previously published.