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 โ€“

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
weโ€™d be utterly sure

of one thing now โ€“
weโ€™d find nothing
of you except these ashes โ€“
not your cadaver

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

Youโ€™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,

youโ€™ve been redacted
to the nothingness of an atmosphere.

(The Pickled Body)