SECULAR RITE • by Oonah V Joslin

The old captain turned the urn in weathered hands. Two witnesses stood by. I was one of them; a friend of the captain, a fellow fisherman in the past, though I did not know the deceased well. He twisted the lid.

At the opening, he said, “Once a closer moon shone down on shorter days than we have now and filled a greater quadrant of the sky.”

His gesture swept the sky. His voice was steady; his eyes on the horizon.

“A virgin pool and things unwritten crackling in the mud: the basic building blocks of RNA formed in the heat and wet, awaiting animation; fins, legs or wings to fly; a voice with which to quarrel over feeders in Edens yet to be; a voice,” here he hesitated, his own voice littler for an instant, “a voice with which to lullaby winter and sing spring back to life;” and then he regained his usual robust tone; “a voice with which to name all that there is.”

The rites that often fall to a captain did not sit well on his shoulders but his voice was a fine baritone that matched this secular liturgy well.

“And so we name all that there is as dust. For that is what we were and what we are and what we will become.”

He paused; lowered the casket over the rail.

“Now we commit these ashes to the sea to await their final release into the universe when this world is done.”

He fixed his eye on the horizon again as if to refocus his belief. But I was close enough to hear him say, “But I suspect; I hope there will be more…’ Then he continued louder maybe to expel that thought, “Energy to matter, matter to energy. Information never can be lost, only transmuted, perhaps in the mind of God and in that sense maybe we shall all live forever.”

Could I have found some words of comfort for his loss I would have said them but we all find our own way through grief, through disbelief or through belief and perhaps it was enough to stand by his side and allow him to keep or lose all he held dear.

Taken by the wind, the ashes joined the elements. The skipper took a handkerchief and wiped his eyes. Then turned and breathed, “Farewell my love.”

Oonah V Joslin is Managing Editor at Every Day Poets.  Credits include 3 Micro Horror prizes, an honorable mention in The binnacles Shorts Poetry comp 2009, Inclusion in several anthologies, A Man of Few Words, The Best of Every Day Fiction 2008 and 2009 and Toe Tags.  Read her at Static Movement, The Shine Journal, A View From Here, The Ranfurly Review 10FLASH Quarterly and many other places. Other work including her Novella, A Genie in a Jam, can be found at Bewildering Stories. The list is updated in The Vaults at Parallel Oonahverse and on her Facebook. Oonah’s ambition is to have a book published.

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