Burning Question
By Christine Catalano

I wait around to see the smoke rise,
when spirit meets sky at last.
What color? Will it be black or white
like a papal election? Or like his fur,
still soft the last time I stroked him.

The furnace roars, the stack exhales
measured amounts of white so quick and brief
it could be mist. Or imagination.
Nearby, space is dug by hand for the latest resident.
The Earth resists. Go home. We don’t want any.
Yes, I will bring home the ashes to ashes,
the protein to carbon and trace elements.
As if I need reminding.

The lady in charge stands in the doorway.
Her face weight-weary with so many small souls.
She’s having a cigarette.
She’s sorry for my loss.
What a job.

Christine is an English major who slipped into publishing by working happily as a graphic artist and art director for many years. Now liberated from daily deadlines, she keeps her muse satisfied with camera, keyboard, and even pen and scraps of paper. (Her muse likes variety.) Some of her work has been published in the San Pedro River Review, Crack the Spine, and Mused.