Ashes to Ashes

A barcode on a cardboard coffin
identified our mother.
The crematory workers scanned her in.

My sister and I had to sign releases to see her
in case her appearance disturbed.
She was still beautiful after six days in the freezer,

still Mama, though her skin was gray.
We gazed at our mother one last time
and kissed her goodbye.

Workers gently closed the cardboard lid,
lifted the box into the incinerator,
and closed its huge doors.

They paused, then asked,
Would you like to turn the machine on?
We nodded, Yes.

We moved the timer’s hand together.
A red light flashed on.
Spotless stainless steel shined in the sun.