Reliquaries

Written by: Jack Jordan

The black one contains the incense of his cremation:
       the fragrance of hair become ash, 
       shreds of flesh lost among the sorting of the parts, 
       grindings of those that didn’t burn.
A bowl of gold nuggets reshaped in fire;
	jewelry for the bereaved.
Another, fashioned from prayer and smoke, 
	holds a rosary and a cross.
	(Was he a believer?).
In the plain envelope, the one with the string tie, 
       are photographs and small paintings of his women; 
       some he didn’t know.
That one is made of ice. Windings, stained cotton sheets, 
	imprints of last bodies can be found there.
The silvered one, the hemisphere, hides a woman’s breasts; 
       the oval box the curve of her body from breast to knee; 
       the one of marble holds knees to ankles. 
       Her feet and head? He sold them to a collector.
Take care with that one. It holds his souls, one for each face.
	(Do souls have weight?)
Arrange the boxes for me, will you? Put them in a life’s order. 
       Will you begin with the one, 
       and then the other, 
       and the third becomes the ghost?
I come back to the resolved:
	his is the humility of the commonplace, 
        refuge of the soon forgotten,
        a natural process.