"Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn." ~Thomas Gray

"Poetry unites." ~Anon

"Truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to tell it." ~Emily Dickinson

Written by Helen Frost
She lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA

The poem was published in her book, Skin of a Fish, Bones of a Bird, Ampersand Press, 1993

We Gather To Scatter

Because a man has finished, we gather to scatter
his ashes and the small chunks fire could not return
to ashes. A breeze lifts a strand of his wife's white hair
lets it fall to her cheek as her hand lifts and lets fall
grey streaks of what was her husband.

One fragment settles beside a saguaro. Rib?
Finger? Knee? A light brown mouse, unafraid,
approaches, finds, in the small bone, food -- white dust
it gnaws and swallows. Leaving tooth-tracks,
it goes home, we suppose, as we go home.

We eat together, sit outdoors as evening darkens.
An owl swoops, and when we see it rise,
we hear short, then longer trills duet
across the desert. The owl we see carries -- a mouse?
The mouse we saw? To its nest? To its young?

Posted with consent of the writer.


  1. Sarah-Paige said...
    Sad and beautiful ... the circle of life :) The images are so vivid in this piece, I love the guessing of the rib, knee or finger and then again at the end of the third stanza...gives an intimate look at how the human mind deals with things such as grief, as we try to distract ourselves. At least that was my take ...
    Love For Life said...
    The circle of life! So true - so brilliantly written. A story within a story. The whole world becomes dust and food.
    WHY? said...
    Great comparison of the man as becoming food for the mouse to the mouse now becoming food for the "owlet."
    K.Lawson Gilbert said...
    A continuum - that blending of the natural world so seamlessly linked. Poignant and moving. Thank you.

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