pages Ashes

by Diana Stauber

Published in Issue No. 12 ~ May, 1998

Name them. Father, brother, brother, infant sister and finally mother. My friend is from a family that loves to die.

And this is not to say, that they are sloppy or reckless. The brothers, perhaps, but who can say they have not had wine and gotten behind the wheel. There are bad cells, abnormal counts, missed beats.

It is: There, but for the grace of god. We sow what we reep. Ashes to smashes. Dust to rust.

These are the words they give my friend. Or some of them. He has been handed so many lines he can’t keep a straight face. So he jokes for them: Group plan, economy of scale, let’s lay them boy-girl-boy-girl-boy….

I am his only confidant and even I can’t resist. I ask him what it’s like. How the few left go on. He smiles and says, We got family VALUE. And it’s true. At Thanksgiving they have doctors, a coroner and a florist join in on the meal. My friend serves them like his own. He leans over and whispers to his single sister: The way to a good burial is through a man’s stomach.

But alone, I can see otherwise, while he fingers the shoulders of his two young boys like a pianist seeking keys.

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Diana is a June 1997 graduate of Bennington's MFA Program and has been published in The Nocturnal Lyric and Whiskey Island. She is the Global Network Manager of International Management Group and lives in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.