Chase Twichell Photo by Emma Dodge Hanson
By Chase Twichell
After my father’s cremation,
my sisters and I agreed
to bury him privately
when the ground thawed.
One will plant a flowering tree,
one see to the stone and its cutting,
one call the grave digger and the town clerk.
It’ll be just us, the daughters,
presiding over ashes that could be
any mammal’s, or those of any love
dispersible by wind.
Let’s bury the secret violence to his dogs,
Pompey and Tara, Juba and Molly,
their ashes already gone to this ground.
And his “escapades,” as Mom called them.
Here withers that branch of the tree.
Let’s bury the ring inscribed
In perpetuum ave atque vale (translated
“Hail and farewell” by my father,
“Hello, and good-bye forever” by Mom,
a token dating back to the First Separation)
and a tennis ball for canine shades.
Your dad is with his dogs now,
said more than one person at the funeral.
It’ll be just us, the three inheritors,
on a raw windy day in Death’s kingdom,
lifting our eyes from the hole
to the mountains hazed with spring,
saying, In perpetuum ave atque vale,
minor god of our father.
Let’s each of us drop a few
dog biscuits into his grave.
( Novelist Russell Banks and poet Chase Twichell )