beyond Alice

by richibi

                                       for Yolande

we had been talking, a friend and I, about
ashes – after, of course, my tale of Hawaii,
and my sacred purpose there with my
friend Greg around the memory of his
nephew and parents – the preparations
necessary to effect a smooth
transmission from one’s demise to final
disposition, a somber thought for many, 
but quite irreversible however, and better
sooner than too late, when bureaucratic
considerations inexorably and
inappropriately apply 
to do so had been for her a last-minute
thing, earlier too stark, invisible,
unconsidered, but a comfort, she said,
ultimately, for the process had thus  
itself become invisible, seamless, upon
a call the service duly submitted to her
particular wishes, of allowing her to sit by
the body till just before dawn, to avoid the
crush of the suddenly bristling morning,
and the probable indiscretions against
the solemnity of the night 
she remembered how she had herself
reverently cast her own husband’s
ashes, told me she had kept some
should she find somewhere else
another garden than the one she
tended now should she ever want
to wander
I spoke of my own ashes, others’ ashes  
she had with her husband cast those
of a sole remaining aunt of an afternoon,
from a rock on the seashore as the tide
moved in and out, feasting on sandwiches
and wine, I had seen dolphins dance out
on the ocean when I’d done something
similar myself around other ashes
a boy, a gay guy, she said came walking
before them on the same beach later,
earlier, I can’t remember
what do you mean gay, how did you
know that, I defensively countered
he was walking between two elderly
ladies, she answered without a beat
as though I hadn’t interrupted, holding
a tea service, complete with silverware,
china and napkins
I was glad I’d asked, I thought her 
conclusion incontrovertible
her husband thought they’d entered 
Alice’s wondrous rabbit hole, I thought
he couldn’t’ve been far off  
they asked 
the two ladies were his aunts, he replied, 
come over from England to commemorate
their sister, his mom  
this wasn’t at all a rabbit hole, I thought,
but somewhere immeasurably finer, holier,
transcendent, they would be offering her 
remains piecemeal to the rose garden,
there by the water in the sunlight on the
lawn, shaping sweetly their own ideas of 
what lay beyond
I’d heard utterly, of course, and ineluctably
there a poem 
my friend replenished our wine
we recalled our own departed spirits