Sashana Kane Proctor


Imagine the time the particle you are
returns where it came from.

In the smoke that carries my dying to the other side,
The Old Ones wait,
Their seeing curved around corners
         where they saw me leaving to become,
         petal tongues tasting air between them,
         smacking wisps of ash against the roofs of their missing me,
         certain the burst of spice that is me is coming soon.
They rumble deep shifting plates.
They purr the thrum of big cats,
         turning their fondness on each other.
They are the gossip murmur of mourning doves
         in the daybreak of my promised return.

The sun mounts the lazy morning humps of horizon
         and spills my memory along sumptuous curves.
In pockets of undisclosed whereabouts
Grandfathers hunker close to the bones they used to throw
         and retell my story beside their own.
A speck of ash roosts on a bare branch
And children shimmy to snatch it up,
         smudging its fragrant presence into flight.
It is not me
But others who know this flake
Sigh with welcome
         and kiss the purple fleck of the life
         landed in dust like softest rain.

When I arrive, floating, tossing, tripping,
Sticking to a lichen bed and licked by a deer,
Those who loved me and those who hated me rejoice.
Together they gaze like lovers,
Smiling the shadows they are.
A crooked branch lays its brokenness
         on the back of a stone and rests.
Water is a second still and surges on.
When I return
The universe gasps with coming home to itself,
         the even breathing of return.
And I
The smallest particle of minuscule ash,
         am breathed back into my place among what is.
Large as life, older than bones, more ancient than memory.