we are skin, bone, sinew, sheath protecting
rushing blood, heart that beats, muscle,
what would happen if skin peels back
what would others see
our imperfections inscribed on concrete paths
our loves and hates broadcast, wants, dreams
to strangers whose footsteps tred
unknowingly across our backs
we travel sometimes alone, learning life through
others and ourselves, our journey evolving
inwardly not sharing when our cross is hard
to bare and would strangers care
we walk and talk, the humans that we are
with foibles and finery, genetics make
our personality, we love, we hate, laugh, cry
complex creatures, the miracle of simply being
our hearts need to beat, our blood to flow
if broken and skin peeled back, we may reveal
bruises of the life we’ve led, that swelled
caused pain, that never surfaced
so take us for what we are, who we are
this short time on this earth, the marvels
of the human kind, for when all is said and done
we are bone, skin, sinew and blood
copyright JMTacken 9.4.2014
The below may be a little confronting. Apologies.
Today a small group of Funeral Celebrants had a tour of one of our local cemeteries set on 440 acres of land and 80,000 trees with beautifully manicured and maintained gardens.
We visited the sites of the Greek, Hindu, Chinese, Jewish, Italian graves and many more. We saw the baby to 3 year old site, which was full of colour and even a small playground and the children’s site. The site of our Victorian Police force who were killed in the line of duty.
Then we visited the building were the cremations took place. Down a steep driveway to a brick building, we entered quietly, reverently.
There was a gentleman with one of the furnaces open raking out the remains of ‘someone’ we stood, the three of us, silent. We saw a large femur bone, amongst the red ashes of the ‘kiln’.
He then asked if we wanted to witness the next one who was coming in. He wheeled in a coffin, adorned with yellow daisies, and opened the furnace door, sliding it carefully in. As soon as it was in place a massive flame came up and he closed the door. We all stood, watching, enthralled and curious about the event that took place in front of us.
The temperature exceeded 900deg. Those that have hip replacements or metal in their bodies were sifted through and a bottom furnace then burnt the remaining ashes. This may seem a morbid thing to write about, but as a funeral celebrant, knowing now how the process is, brought a sense of relief, in a way.
The process is handled with great care and respect. The bodies of loved ones are then placed into containers, all marked. They check the paperwork 5 times before each cremation.
We were told the higher the lacquer on the coffin, the faster it burns. That having cardboard coffins is environmentally unfriendly as they are held together with too much glue. They want the ashes to be in the purest state possible, so advise funeral directors and celebrants to deter families from placing photos, letters or other memorabilia in for their journey.
As we walked out the building, I started to get quite emotional and cry. I wrote the above last night, prior to this visit, not knowing what we were going to witness.
It brought home we are just ‘items’ in a way. Made up of many things, then when our time comes we are but ash, disintegrated parts of us, of what was us…dust to dust..hard to describe really…