Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Doug Anderson: Scattering my Mother’s Ashes on the Family Plot at Hickman Kentucky

Down into the black, flesh curdled dirt.
Down into the family charnel,
marinade in whiskey, with the murderers
and soul murderers
against whom you honed your tongue.
Down there with the starved
and yellow-fever-sickened,
with the beans-one-day-lard-the-next-
one-foot-in-front-of-the-other life.
Down in the rivers of sodden mash
of sex smeared hate.
With the stained wallpaper
peeled off the pale failing heart.
You burned for a while
against the cold dark and faded.
Let what continues on in the charred silence be
gentle as a baby’s breath against your neck.
I wouldn’t wish your life on anyone
and especially myself.
I sift the weight of you from my heart.
Take the hard words and the bloody welts
of fierce love with you.
Now that you are dead I can get a word in edgewise
but I hate long eulogies
and therefore let me
make you one like a star that has collapsed
in on itself and is so dense it can hold
everything that is said
and everything that is unsaid.
I let the last of you drift with this small wind that has made itself known
by moving the leaves as if to end this. Now.

From Horse Medicine by Doug Anderson, copyright 2015. Published by Barrow Street. Reprinted by permission of the author.

This poem appeared in the Pushcart Prize 2005 anthology.

One comment on “Doug Anderson: Scattering my Mother’s Ashes on the Family Plot at Hickman Kentucky

  1. jfrobb
    July 31, 2015

    Parts of this are now in my journal. To go back and reread. To help let go and move on. Thank you.


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