The moment of joining
After a long day of driving past empty dairy factories and small towns with family associations, he chose a tree for his mother; a European tree he didn’t know the name of, but felt she would have liked. Thinking of her ashes as containing trace elements beneficial to a tree, he chose a spot two metres out from the trunk, where he thought the roots would be, and started sprinkling.
He found that his legs started to take him backwards around the trunk, his back bent him forwards in a deep bow, and ashes from the plastic container he held in his hands began to make a white circle under the tree. He remembered soft grey wood ashes caught by the wind.
His back bent him lower to the ground.
His mouth closed.
For a short time he felt jealous of his legs and back and hands, having a circle to make, while he himself felt airy and seemed to have no proper part. Later he looked back on this feeling with nostalgia.
As the moment of joining came close, he felt a rumbling in the ground which he knew was every stage in his own life coming towards him. He knew there was no actual convoy of heavy trucks passing under him. No succession of houses rising from the ground and crossing the sky, their windows lit up like stars.
Later he said that he was not the sort of person to believe that when he died his father would welcome him with a handshake to a house he had lived in as a child, but sprinkling the ashes had given him a sense that his mother and father had somehow paved the way and that it was not far from here to there.
Brushing the circle of ashes away with twigs was something he did at the end, before taking photographs of the perfectly shaped tree and the perfectly shaped mountain.