That summer morning: humid, bright, and busy. The girls rush around doing homework, digging out plimsolls, and searching for lunch boxes for raisins, cucumber, and tubs of yoghurt – packed lunches.

It arrived in the morning post, bundled with bills, catalogues, and fast-food flyers. The postmark was antipodean, and the franking skew, with surreal images of exotic birds with bright feathers and yellow beady eyes.

It started out crisp, a standard five by eight, pure white virginity in fold. Photographs of my mother, a note, and a small cellophane wrap; transparent and sealed at the ends, the content of grey powder clinging to plastic by long-distance static.

The note detailed his love, her beauty, and his sadness at the end.

I wept as I held the wrap, a tenth of my mother in powder, the remains of her ashes already scattered in the sea, my father alone sending love and best wishes.

standing in the hall,
thinking of her smile and warmth,
heart aching, sadness.