I want to return to the moment
father and I brought the canister of mother's ashes
to the temple in some odd shopping bag.
We then dropped off the remains
to leave for a couple slices down the block
but the reverend pulled a robe
over her jeans and blouse,
picked up prayer beads
and suggested which was not a question
we say a sutra. Which one was it?
I only recall I didn't have a tissue;
that the incense which I so dislike
felt sweet wafting into my sweater
and hair; that my whole body
shook without pause
though I did not make a sound
and tears and mucus covered my face and
sleeves because father did not know
I needed the handkerchief
mother had pressed a week earlier.
At times the loss felt like an organ
one could excise with a razor.
From Mosquito and Ant by Kimiko Hahn,W.W. Norton & Co. (July 2000)
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