All winter long we slide across our backyard ice-rink
then trek through the snow, past the naked raspberry canes,
to dispose of our garbage.
mouldy spaghetti sauce,
used coffee grounds,
create a frozen palette in our compost bin.
When the geese return
and the snow shrinks to reveal the muddy,
Shalain calls to tell me her 44-year old friend is gone.
They carried her body,
piled with flowers her children laid on her,
out of her home where she died.
The pitch fork stabs through the kitchen slime and
and pulls out a tangle of last year’s tomatoe vines.
I dump in dry leaves, then stop to moisten each layer.
A season’s worth of waste begins to heat.
Five days after I mix the beastly pile
I check for signs of life,
plunging my hand into the rank darkness.
until it is
not only warm
and I squeal at the same old miracle.
From the broken, discarded, trampled and rotten
Billions of microbes pulse with new life.
Sandy’s funeral was last week.
She was too young, too vibrant to go.
Death came anyway.
She smiles in her memorial photograph
with her arms raised triumphantly.
I wonder if any embalmer has arranged
a body in the casket like that.
Six weeks after tackling the pile
I wheelbarrow the fresh compost to its new home.
I would carry it teaspoon by teaspoon if I had to.
When I transfer it to the garden box
not a single crumble slips off my spade.
Everything discarded has become precious.
Bacteria sings the chorus of resurrection.
Easter hums through creation.
Death is not the end.
It never is.
Not even in a pile of garbage.