You Have Become the Hand Rub of an Olympian

When your ashes return
in a small wooden box,
a brass plaque on top,
there is no cord

or record of attachment
to anything or anyone.
Somewhere a uterus
is evacuating itself –

a mass of patient vessels,
surrendering and collapsing
bereft of implantation,
their futile existence spent.

If we were to walk
every inch of the earth
or soar to a distant planet
we’d be utterly sure

of one thing now –
we’d find nothing
of you except these ashes –
not your cadaver

or the bony frame
of your being,
not the protrusion
of your dental arcs.

You’ve been reduced
to chalky powder
like the hand rub
of some Olympian

preparing to bar-cling.
If this box should open,
one accidental sneeze
might spell the resurgence

of your skin cells, hair
follicles, a glutinous eye
or a femur bone. Rewinding,
back-tracking,

you’ve been redacted
to the nothingness of an atmosphere.

(The Pickled Body)