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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 7, Number 2, June 2013


Donna Buck
Beaumont, California, USA

Life Jacket

We rent the sailboat for the memorial. After attending to the details—the permit, the wait for the ashes, securing the vendor and coordinating schedules—on this cool November afternoon we are finally assembled. All of her children but one. A few close family friends. My brother's wife; my sisters' husbands. The grandkids cannot come. I cannot swim.

Once at sea, we read one of her favorite poems. My youngest sister removes the lid from the urn and pours out the ashes. A light breeze carries them sideways as they billow out into the wind. Like silver snowflakes, they are falling swiftly into the water. My brother is silent and stoic; my sisters are not. We listen to the raspy voice of Nat King Cole.

I am unable to cry. As I tug on my life jacket, I recall the discussion. "Is it OK, Mom, if we take your ashes to sea?" "Fine," she says, "if it brings you kids closure."

Closure? She's been gone a month and she was ready for so long. She's not here. For me, it's just a day. A winter afternoon. A clear skyline. Her ashes on the wing of a pelican riding the current.

folk dance song
Moldavian melody
a maiden
in a hillside meadow
gathers lupines for her hair



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