Final Journey


When your time comes what will be done with your remains?
Do you want to be buried or burned?  Perhaps a native American Indian sky burial?  A last trip down the Ganges?  Opt for the Tibetan solution of being fed to vultures?
Dissolved in acid perhaps?  Cryogenically frozen?  Mummified?
Preserved in a glass case like Snow White and lots of Catholic saints?

And then what?  Do you expect a memorial?
Perhaps a huge mausoleum like a Bronze Age Monarch or a Mexican Drug Lord.
Would you prefer your molecules to return to earth with minimal fuss and no lasting impact on the landscape?  A biodegradable eco-coffin, or ashes scattered on the fields.
When the flesh has fallen from your bones would you like to rest in an ossuary?
Do you have a family grave or crypt?  Will the current residents let you in?
Who holds the grave papers?

Will your wishes be honoured by your executors?  Will you know if they are?  Will you care?  Will they?

Just let me go on record now.  I expect the full Viking funeral.  Longboat filled with my possessions.  Battle axe in my right hand, shield in my left.  Helmet – no horns (Authenticity please).  Dog (dead) at my feet.  Point me to the west and set the vessel on fire.
If funds are a problem maybe cremate me and put my ashes into a very small Viking ship.  Don’t kill the dog.  Keep my possessions.  But I want to sail into the west.


Ashes: by Paula Meehan

The tide comes in; the tide goes out again
washing the beach clear of what the storm
dumped. Where there were rocks, today there is sand;
where sand yesterday, now uncovered rocks.

So I think on where her mortal remains
might reach landfall in their transmuted forms,
a year now since I cast them from my hand
—wanting to stop the inexorable clock.

She who died by her own hand cannot know
the simple love I have for what she left
behind. I could not save her. I could not
even try. I watch the way the wind blows
life into slack sail: the stress of warp against weft
lifts the stalling craft, pushes it on out.