Cottonwood for Now

Cottonwood for Now

-After Shelly Holder

Cottonwood seeds hang midair, cover the sidewalks and the lawns
like a dusting of new snow or maybe ashes after a brush fire.

Last night, we talked about ashes. What to do with them. Who has them.
By now, my mother’s have drifted

down the South Platte to the Mississippi and from there to the Gulf.
My father’s are in the Strait of Georgia off Vancouver Island.

Separated in death as they were in life.

My son still has his late wife’s ashes
and those of her mother on a shelf in his closet.

His mother-in law wanted to be sprinkled in Paris,

while his wife, whose sudden death at 4l shocked us all,
never got the chance to choose.

I don’t want to sit on someone’s shelf. Scatter me
anywhere along the Pacific coast.

My husband says he wants to be dumped in the air ducts
of a casino over the card room, so he can blow ashes

on those who smoked next to him playing poker.
If I’m still around when he goes, he gets the Pacific.

Ever noticed how it’s easier to talk about disposing of the ashes
than about the actual dying that goes before it?

No one ever says, I want to suffer, to waste away,
to fight for breath, to beg for another day.

At worst, I want to die of old movie disease,
lying in a hospital bed, hair perfect, a stray lock falling

over a slight dampness on the brow, cheeks flushed,
a handsome movie star weeping over me.

Better still, like most everyone, I want my own death
to be quick, painless, preferably during sleep.

To dream, hanging in midair,
like cottonwood seeds.

What are you looking for?