My father brings her ashes in a Ziploc,

the Ziploc in a box, undecorated.

Rain mottles the sand. My mother’s hair goes flat.

A pair of herons preen beneath the boardwalk. 

My sister, gripping her umbrella, frustrated

by the storm, tosses a long-stem rose that

comes floating back on the white foam of a wave. 

What kind of grandmother doesn’t want a grave?

The ocean’s the only place the Pope says ashes

should not be scattered. But we remember her here: 

her see-through visor and mascaraed lashes, 

her cooler filled with strawberries and beer. 

We’re counting down the days until resurrection.

The sea takes handfuls of her in all directions.


Kimberly Kemler’s work has appeared in or is forthcoming from 2 Bridges Review, Salamander, CutBank, and elsewhere. She is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at Johns Hopkins University’s The Writing Seminars.