Custom’s a deep pond
reflective surface
but deep
in dark, wet infinity
purpose sits a silty bed.

To wash a loved one’s limbs
bereft of life’s glow
as January’s cold ashes
settle into bones
leaves those respecting ritual
no doubts:

lungs will never more inflate
eyes open to this world
nor gentled fingers stroke a soft-flushed cheek—
a vessel, emptied
& ready
to be one with the earth.

Image credit:Colin Watts

author bio: Jan Harper


Enjoyment of the written word is a gift I've been granted all my life; to have others enjoy what I write is another, more surprising one.


When a poet's words are read, minds connect at an infinitely intimate level.


My writing has appeared in various print publications, from single pieces to arrangements of 10, plus in numerous spots across the web over the past 20 years.


I'm an ex-Brit living in America with my husband, mother-in-law, dog, cats and chickens, plus coyotes, rabbits, deer, possums and other wild critters; when I'm not writing poetry, I can be found with my hands in the dirt, planting and growing a kaleidoscope of produce, or making jams and good meals from the harvest. Painting, knitting, needlecraft and more all express my love of creating.


(photo taken with my phone of a little spot near Southend, England, where I once sat and ate burger and chips as I contemplated being a mermaid)