I picked up your remains today.
A clamped freezer bag of ash
slumped inside a Chinese vase I gave you
one happy birthday.
So sudden, no one is thinking clearly.
No one wants to make a decision.
You rest, for now, on a cleared shelf.
But it doesn’t hurt to pass by your urn.
Not the way it hurts to look in your purse;
Sweet, clutter of make-up, broken cigarettes,
handwritten to-do’s, old lottery tickets.
Or to go through your chest of drawers,
while our young son is sleeping,
the blouses clean, folded, almost expectant.
The absurd gray stillness inside the urn
is so far removed
from the lustrous hearth of your smile
from the feline glitter in your eyes…
It pleased me, that birthday,
that you knew the cranes on the vase
meant long life and wisdom.
I know I never wrote enough of the poems
you wanted, needed, to hear.
I will write some now
though it is too late to add or take back a thing.
I will address them to the cranes
on the cool blue porcelain,
aloft, in their endless mute migration.
Brad Hatfield was born in Yakima, Washington. He graduated
from the University of Washington. Recent publications appear in
the WPA’s Whispers & Shouts, Snow Monkey: An Eclectic Journal;
Switched On Gutenberg; the Poetry Superhighway; the Orange Room
Review; Sein Und Werden, Best Poem, Words-Myth and Origami
Condom. He was the 2008 Winner of the Yakima Valley Allied Arts
Juried Poetry Contest, and is a Board Member of the Washington
Poet’s Association. Brad lives with his companion and their son
Grayson in Mill Creek, WA.