Funeral for Unreturned Ashes

sent regrets by smoke // dull coatings of a time // now ambered // into its search for // a former light // when the world was not dark // just lightless // except for those flashpoints of skin // little currents that mark // the only things // we ever shared // to know we both craved // in the same brilliant age // a desire with gravity // the seedy impact of two bodies // who collide by choice // even at the cost of systems // still breaking // wills and testaments // that keep what remains // of you abroad // in a home you tried to make // but never bedded // until this restless sleep


Copyright © 2023 by Travis Chi Wing Lau. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 30, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets. 

About this Poem

“This poem was written in the wake of my uncle’s tragic death while abroad in Shanghai. At the time of writing this, he has yet to have a proper funeral and has yet to be laid to rest due to ongoing tensions between my family and his wife, who has made the cruel choice to hold his ashes ransom in exchange for all of his remaining assets. In the midst of this painful infighting, I wrote this poem as the memorial that he deserves.”
—Travis Chi Wing Lau