The Student Literary Journal of Vermont State University

The funeral director lifts sealed ashes into flecks of sunlight, knows he’s just performed a small miracle, turned our mother into a well-made box my sister and I can drive home in the front seat of her convertible bug. In life, she was never that easy. He asks if we’re okay, the way we stare at it, as if it were a detonated bomb. He tilts the box to the left then right, cautiously turns it in a complete circle. I imagine a tiny trapeze artist inside spinning round and round – Flying Marvel! in poufy blue shorts, yellow shirt, perfect calves in white tights – sand trickling soundlessly through the delicate apparatus. At home, we move her around all the possibilities to a great round of applause. She dangles, resting, in the center of the box from a bar in the centre. We offer: shaded among flowering wild onions or next to a vase on a bowed oak shelf. Mother, is this the box you hoped for? We carry her downstairs to her basement apartment; encircle her with a chorus of wooden icons. No she answers.