Sunday, November 6, 2011

L'Envoi at Prout's Neck, Maine

by Thelma Jacqueline Straw

The woman stood on the cliff that rose above the Atlantic Ocean and let the rain mingle with her tears.

If she dropped the man's ashes into the water the tides might take them as far as Cape Finisterre on the northwest tip of the coast of Spain.

Unless they drifted south and hit the beaches of the Azores.

You never knew with ocean tides.

The grey ashes might end up at Baffin Bay or even drift among the Hebrides.

The rain came down harder now.

The rocks were cold and hard beneath her thin-soled sandals , as she held the silver box tightly to her chest.

She felt like an ancient Trojan woman, pouring the remains of a warrior into the wine-dark waters, or a Celtic princess, poised above the Irish Sea, performing rites that had begun way back in the mists of time.

She felt guilty at her mixed feelings.

Had the English prince been torn in his heart as he cast a spadeful of earth over his former wife under the trees of her private island in the lake at Althorp Park?

She could still hear the song, the sad, poignant lyrics that had echoed the lament of millions of mourners.

"Now you belong to heaven, and the stars spell out your name... like a candle in the wind."

The man had come from an old New England family, but not twenty generations.

Two hundred years was not a long time when you compared it to royal centuries.

But did the man belong to any heaven?

Would his name be in any star?

He had taken so much from her life and given her back so little in return.

He had grown dark, then darker, until it took all her strength to recall that he had ever borne any light at all.

She had tried to honor her sacred vows, covered over with so many layers that no one ever knew what lay at the bottom of her emotions.

Let the dead bury the dead.

But she was not dead.

He was, reduced to a small silver container that fit in the palm of her hand.

She opened the box and held it upside down and watched the ashes and bits of bone mingle with the rain as they fell down to the water below.

"Go with God," she whispered, as the tiny particles disappeared from her sight.

Then she turned to walk toward the rain-spattered Jeep at the edge of the road.

1 comment:

  1. Stunning bit of writing. Great sense of emotion and tension!!!