Rituals

We admired ancient Egyptians.
Painted boxes, families who cared enough to draw birds,
carry cakes and ale to their beloveds.

We did not cremate her.
We buried her like a sacred Egyptian,
tucked in relics:  a lavender heart, garnet ring, Celtic holy card,
the papyrus of her poetry, photos of her Depression childhood.

When the parakeet died she found just the right shoe box.
She folded its blue feathers in with toys and seeds,
painted popsicle sticks green and formed them into a crucifix.

All that winter we waited.

In spring the potato vine blossomed
and stretched over our bird grave.

She believed in rituals — even miracles,
spoke of ancestors clawing sod with bare hands,
turning over blackened spuds.
Their larders bare, nothing to fortify them but prayer.

Seals

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Death and Life washed up on the shore, lying on the sands of Alki Beach.
Curious on-lookers gathered near to point at
the inert, dark mass
more rock than mammal,
its ebony flesh age-battered.
No more frolics in the waves.
No more suppers of fish and kelp.

Close by the seal pup
blinked its eyes,
dorsal tail waving and I thought of the story
of the Little Mer-Baby lost at sea,
swept home on a wave.
“Should we call Fish and Wildlife?” someone asked.

The pup winked and turned to the sun.
Napped.
With no worries of its fate.