Henrietta’s Ashes

Bryce Angell – The outdoors has always been a large part of my life. My father was an outfitter and guide for 35 years and I was there to shoe and care for the horses and help him do the cooking. We took many great trips into the Yellowstone area. Even now that I’m older, we still ride into the Tetons, Yellowstone and surrounding areas. My poems are mostly of personal experience. I am now retired and enjoying life to the fullest. I plan to do more riding and writing.

Old Henrietta Johnson finally passed at Comfort Lane. Her husband, Jacob, said he’d spread her ashes from his plane.

Jacob made his promise to spread them out on Henry’s Lake. He asked me if I’d ride along to keep him wide awake.

Jacob learned to fly a plane way back in World War II. And now at ninety years of age was still cruising through the blue.

He said, “No need to worry. I’m as healthy as a horse.” I wondered, was he talking ‘bout an overaged plow horse?

So, there you have it, one old man and one plum stupid fool. A pair of knuckleheads who prob’ly share the same gene pool.

Jacob pushed down on the throttle. You could hear the engine roar. We were hopping down the runway. Would the widow-maker soar?

The wheels were lifting from the ground. Now fighting for the sky. The engine started sputtering. Did I really want to die?

Jacob tried to put my mind at ease. He said, “Don’t worry, son. I swear we’ll fly this plane, if not, we’ll die to get it done.”

Jacob said, “I think we’re close to where we’ll make our drop. Just slide your window back, then pour the ashes out the top.”

I was nervous as a skunk. It weren’t the time to lose your head. What I did next would only be what some would call “pure dread!”

I slid the window back. I felt the wind from head to toe. Then I opened up the jar and Jacob promptly hollered, “No!”

When all at once his Henrietta’s dust came flying out. The cockpit blew with ashes. I’d messed up, there was no doubt.

My eyes and nose were filled with dust. My mouth had met its fate. ‘Cuz I think I spit a chunk or maybe accidentally ate.

I tossed the doggone urn and heard it bounce back off the wing. Then I took a gaze around and there was ash on everything.

I dared a look at Jacob and his eyes were open wide. I guess I’d done my job. It was a most exciting ride.

For three whole days my nose was blowing Henrietta’s dust. And I swear I heard her laugh each time I coughed a chunk of crust.

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