Ashes by Emmaline Silverman


I sprinkled you from a popcorn tub, from that same shop where
you bought your favorite caramel corn every summer.
(Don’t say I’m irreverent–we’re saving money on an urn.)
It was that moment before sunset, with nacreous clouds
spilling silver sheen from the horizon over the sea.
You would’ve liked it. You wouldn’t have said so; you’d just have
thrust your hands into your fishing vest pockets, tightening
the fabric around your wasted frame, and squinted out there,
perhaps remembering my mother, your seaside queen,
or musing on whether we’d go for ice cream afterward.

But speculation is no substitute. In your current
state, charred dust dissolved in seawater, gulped by sharks and eels,
it’s hard to feel your presence, as the books promised I would.
Yet still I speak to you. That shadow of your voice, the words
you might have muttered or exclaimed, comes only from my brain,
but don’t you still reside there–your impressions and idioms,
films you loved, pitchers you venerated, politicians
you derided, all imprinted on me since my childhood?

Enough, you’d tell me. This is intellectual hogwash.
What matters is what you can see and touch and eat.
Get off the bench, you laggard. Let’s go down to the boardwalk
and see if they’re still selling that nice maple walnut fudge.

by Emmaline Silverman

Twitter: @emmaliiiiine

Editor’s Note: Sometimes grief is quiet and unassuming. In this conversational poem, the memory that remains is as pragmatic as the container which holds the ashes of the narrator’s lost father. The long lines and often surprising line breaks support the narrative and help the reader understand what’s important and what’s not.


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