This hand that holds the trowel,
a rubber glove to hide
thick-knuckled, restless fingers—
you know it’s yours.
Yours, also, the knobby knees, the narrow
feet in muddy crocs, the loosened skin
holding it all together—who knows
however long? You are
a waterfall of flesh and bone
hurtling toward the ground.
The tired earth can only hold so many.
That hole you dug looks deep enough
to fit the roots. You drape them gently
over the mound of soil, one palm
cradling the flower’s head
as it once did your sleeping child’s.
How many years ago? And why
can you not stop remembering, forgetting?
You wish you dug a hole as far as China
for all the things you wanted to forget.
Topsoil would pour into the gaps
between the roots; water would drown
even the slightest shadow of a thought.
And just like that you know why people bury
what they have lost, the things
they wish stayed buried.
Beneath earth’s crust, translucent
bodies find a lack of purpose
with blind hands. Those who recall
the burden of old lives must learn
that memory can only hold so much.
They may have wrestled
storms once. Now, they run
like clouds over the prairie of death.
The rose is blooming in new soil: a nameless
gift of being nothing and everything.
Under your feet, there’s affection
to be found. There, on the prairie side
of things, love must be grass
bleached in the sun, cradling the rows
of children sleeping in the field.
First published in The Remembered Arts Journal, February 2019