what I remember most is the ash.

the way that brilliant blue sky of the morning

turned cloudy with the ashes that

floated down like the snowflakes of a quiet storm,

and drifted into the corners of the windows and doorways.

those drifts piled up silently, untouched for days, weeks.

everytime I looked out the windows I was reminded of the words —

“ashes to ashes, dust to dust”

“ashes to ashes, dust to dust” as the piles sat there untouched.

because when I looked at them directly, I just kept thinking

this is not just stardust fallen from the sky, these are peoples’ lives.

the drifts in the doorway of our back porch came up nearly to my knee.

and it was a long time before we opened the door to step outside.

when I finally found the courage to clear away the drifts –

those ashes from the window sills and doors, weeks had gone by.

but I still prayed the words, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

and no matter how much time goes by,

I will always feel the shame that burned in my cheeks

from having removed peoples’ lives

with nothing more than a dustpan and a bucket of soap.

and those empty echoes of “always remember” that come once a year

do not take into account that for those of us who whispered

“ashes to ashes, dust to dust

we could not ever forget, even if we tried.

(c) 2019, CMK.

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