Now Ashes (For Ilse)


Ilse Morgan on her 82nd Birthday 5.28.12

My sister whispered, “It’s ok, if you want to go now.”

This is not the week we pictured.

We watched your color

change like a sunset, fade to final.

We each said our goodbyes.

You had changed your mind about ashes.

In Auschwitz, your relatives were reduced to ashes

and in the Lodge fire, your jewelry, irreplaceable heirlooms, now

you too to the flames gone by.

The mantle is like a memorial, I keep rearranging the pictures,

nothing feels right – too final –

they should be black and white, not color.

Tonight the sunset is aflame with color―

the sky slowly burning to ash.

Sometimes night feels so final…

I wonder how I can live in the now,

sifting through the past in pictures,

someone is always saying goodbye.

Absence is the ache of goodbye.

She was color-

ful, you can see it in all the pictures.

In the Danube, she wants her ashes.

No solace for now—

that will be the grand finale.

Obituaries are final.

I did not get to tell my father goodbye.

I know better how it works now―

the sudden change and fleeting color.

He chose earth, not fire and ash.

Left with two lifetimes of memorabilia and pictures.

She would have been “in pictures”,

but her father said “No, that’s final.”

Ashes to ashes,

hello, goodbye,

a flash of color—

and now?

Now only pictures and memories

whose colors continue to fade. Final

goodbyes —the Danube, Tchaikovsky,  her ashes.

2 thoughts on “Now Ashes (For Ilse)

    • Thank you,Lea! These poems are my first after quite a hiatus…Looks like you have quite the muse yourself. I look forward to reading your works.

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