MY FATHER’S ASHES
My father’s ashes came from the mortuary
in a black velvet box my mother
promptly hid from view in a closet.
They’re all that she has of him now,
after his ordeal by fire and grinding:
a thin gray dust as delicate as smoke.
The housekeeper responsible for her hallway
at the retirement community made a point
of mentioning she wouldn’t be disturbed
by the knowledge they were there.
Many apartments she cleans, she informed
my mother, accommodate the cremated
remains of the residents’ loved ones.
It wouldn’t be a problem, she insisted,
absolutely no problem at all.
Son of the noted ichthyologist C. Lavett Smith, 1927-2015, Robert Lavett Smith was raised in New Jersey, and has lived since 1987 in San Francisco, where for the past sixteen years he has worked as a Special Education Paraprofessional. He has studied with Charles Simic and the late Galway Kinnell. He is the author of several chapbooks and three full-length poetry collections, the most recent of which is The Widower Considers Candles (Full Court Press, 2014). Two poems from this newest book have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.