Earth to Earth

For Camilla


how deep below is that earth to earth

how far down to go for peace


while our small group awkwardly gathers

like disjointed clumps around the crumbling statue of an aging angel

while the old man in black talks into an old book in his hands

while I describe how she’d made fairy tales out of her nightmares

while a middle-aged lady relates a prank they had pulled as kids


the hole stays covered up with a square piece of canvas as if for a surprise

but then the man in black intones a few more verses and turns to me

pointing to the canvas and the heavy earthenware container by me


I snatch away the cover and grab the container of ashes

it’s only then that the hole turns out to be much deeper than I’d expected


I have to go down on my knees and finally even on my elbows in my dark suit

in order to lower the container without dropping it

the hole keeps pulling me down not only the container


but then the container touches bottom and my hands are free of their burden

free to prop me up and let me scramble to my feet


free of the burden but weighed down more heavily by its absence


the traffic noise downhill resumes its life but it’s no longer my life that goes on

without the life of the one we talk about


while we stumble back to the cars

the sunshine doesn’t even flicker as I brush the dirt off my knees


you and I had gotten so much dirt above ground I say softly to the urn in the hole

we should be used to it


but she was so good at remembering sunshine and turned even dirt into a smile

like I turn it into tears and stabs of memories no urn can hold


how can the sky be so bright blue on a day like this and the gravestones so gray

if she gets one                         let it be hazel                  the color of her eyes