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Incinerator Road

    Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all
    the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.

                  —Psalm 139:16

Without an authorized guide, you can't find it.
Off Route 20, headed out of town we turn left
onto Research Road, entrance to a once grand

southern plantation. We drive behind the med
school chaplains, Donald and Paul, turn onto
the graveled curve of Incinerator Road.

We slow as a truck marked "biohazard," follows
us, passes after we turn into the small lot in front
of metal barns. Up the hill stands an old incinerator,

under an open shed. A hayfield stretches out morning's
cold mist. Chaplain Paul says, "This view is usually
lovely." The mist makes views invisible.

Mountains, dark clouds in the distance, penetrating
cold. He points where he scattered my mother's ashes
with the others, years ago, tells how he offered prayers.

What text for this morning, Tibetan Book of the Dead,
Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, Course in Miracles,
Tao te Ching
? I choose a psalm, three years after

my mother's death. It's difficult to bring grief back.
It isn't out of character, this odd memorial, or even
that the ashes were mixed up. Maybe this is another

of her odd gifts to us. How we can recognize eeriness
in a damp, gray day, note a dead deer on the road, a wet
field, view obscured by mist, a truck marked "Danger"

logging past us again. Signs are her odd offerings to us:
black antique hearse passing. Batesville Casket Company's
truck in the oncoming lane scatters a murder of crows.

Susan R. Williamson

Smartish Pace

Issue 19

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