I. The Tree

Only 1 percent of a dormant mature tree is biologically living, while the rest is composed of non-living, structural wood cells. If you hang wind chimes or bronze temple bells on, let’s say, a maple, or build a cradle for your baby in the treetops of an oak, you may rest easy knowing that the non-living cellulose molecules in the tree branches form fibers tough enough to provide the support needed to stop the bough from breaking, thereby saving your child from calamity. Sad to say, thousands of seedlings die shortly after germination, thus the average age of most tree species is less than one year.

Moving on. If a person cuts down a tree, the separated material will dry up, the protoplasm harden and the protein turn into wood one might burn in a fireplace or use for building a box. This wood is considered dead, though the piece it was once attached to (if still attached to the tree itself) is still considered alive.

II. The Young Woman

had approximately 37.2 trillion cells in her body, though the factor used to determine the number is, indeed, a crude estimate. With so many cells to ride herd on, it was understandable (though highly unfortunate) that The Young Woman (through no fault of her own) was unable to control her cells 24/7. Once docile and polite, the cells suddenly, inexplicably, went nuts. They acted out in the alveoli, pitched fits in the interstitium, had melt downs in her pleura.

Shamans shook rattles, the believers wore red strings, chanted mi shebeirach, but the bough broke. Mother, father, siblings, husband, daughters, a grove a forest a wildwood of willows, wept bitterly over their loss and planted olive trees in her name.

By all that is logic, the Young Woman is dried up, hardened, dead, though the pieces she was once attached to still consider her alive.

III. The Box

The casket must be made of wood. Pine is preferred. The box may be stained or unstained, polished or unpolished. It must be totally free of metal. No nails, no screws, no metal hinges, handles or hardware. The casket cannot be created on the Sabbath.

The Young Woman is washed, wrapped in white linen, placed in the box and lowered into the earth, where wood and flesh, particles, atoms, molecules, cells, tissue, change matter to energy that lets the Mother, Father, siblings, husband, daughters, keep moving on.

Ozzie Nogg

Ozzie Nogg's work has appeared in Diddledog, Apollo’s Lyre, Flashshot, Apocrypha and Abstractions, 50 Word Stories and Donut Factory. Her book of personal stories, Joseph’s Bones, won First Place in the 2005 Writer’s Digest Press International Self-Published Book Awards. Please visit her at: www.ozzienogg.com