Wednesday Vignette: Ashes

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.


Some of my father’s cremated ashes, spread in June 2013 along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia.


Great big flakes like white ashes
at nightfall descending
abruptly everywhere
and vanishing
in this hand like the host
on somebody’s put-out tongue, she
turns the crucifix over
to me, still warm
from her touch two years later
and thank you,
I say all alone —
Vast whisp-whisp of wingbeats
awakens me and I look up
at a minute-long string o f black geese
following low past the moon the white
course of the snow-covered river and
by the way thank You for
keeping Your face hidden, I
can hardly bear the beauty of this world.

— Franz Wright, “Cloudless Snowfall,” The New Yorker (2001)



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  1. What a special final resting place, along the rhododendrons of the Appalachian Trail. This may sound silly, but I have a little bag of my cat’s ashes. He died in November, but being that he lived his first couple of years outside as a stray, I couldn’t bring myself to make him spend the winter outdoors. Once it warms up a little more, and plants start sprouting again, I will find one of his favorite spots, and let him come to rest there. (I get emotional just thinking about it.)

    1. Doesn’t sound at all silly to me. The cat will appreciate spring. I had my dad’s for more than 3 years before I was able to get to a spot on the AT that I thought he’d like (and that I knew he’d hiked, not too far from where he lived). I also have ashes of all three dogs in containers, plus some of my dad’s (he’s also scattered in a cemetery where his parents and sister are buried). The dogs’ ashes are in lovely wooden containers and what’s left of my portion of Dad’s (my sisters have some too) are in a hot cocoa tin 🙂 Once we find our final home, I may scatter the dogs ashes there. Hugs.

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