For Laura (1957-1986)
The ocean’s not its usual pacific self. The beach is empty, the sky overcast, towering waves, a scene orchestrated for high drama. Imagine, if you will, an antique lithograph, sepia-toned, depicting the heroic rescue of a drowning damsel from a violent sea.
The crests of the breakers are wind-whipped into the manes of galloping horses, while behind us, amid the graffiti on the concrete sea wall, someone’s painted a life-sized string of sturdy horses, like those prehistoric ones on the walls of French and Spanish caves. And so apropos, as horse is slang for heroin.
The ashes fly up when my mother opens the box. She coughs, chokes, my sister’s dust smeared across her face. My father tries to help, but she swats his hands away. Gently, he takes the box from her, passes it to Teddy, and gathers her in his arms.
My brother turns, puts his back to the wind, and motions us out of the way. A flick of his wrist, once, twice, and our blue-eyed girl is gone. Released. Rescued.