"Jelly-Side Down"
by artis wilder



We all knew you wouldn't stay.
That you would leave us soon.
We looked at each other,
over our beer and cigarettes
and shook our heads.
"She's on self-destruct."

We knew. We saw it coming.
But still we clenched our jaws 
and cursed under our breath
when we heard.
You. Your bike. A telephone pole.
You were 21.
You were dead.

Your family decided 
to scatter your ashes on a mountaintop.
We were invited.

We clustered uneasily near our bikes
Scuffing our boots in the dirt,
hands jammed into our jeans.
We were young and knew nothing of funerals.

They brought out your remains in a pink box.
You would have hated that.
Your Mother threw them into the air.
They did not fly heavenward into the wind,
but fell to the dirt in clumps
and lay there.
I choked in horror.
The ground and the mesquite became littered with your ashes.
You always were a screw-up.

At last your father flung the end of your ashes into the air.
A gust of wind blew them
back in our faces.
I tasted your death in my mouth.
I laughed.
Then I cried.

This was not a proper Viking funeral.
But then, 
You were no Viking.

© artis wilder



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