All Their Voices

Words and thoughts in devotion to the Divine

Palisade of Bones

Leave a comment

A spadeful at a time, I turn the earth,
clearing away yesterday’s garbage:
broken glass, rusty nails, plastic chip bags,
shattered crockery, dirt-dulled toys,
then replace this debris with things far cleaner,
closer to the soil and closer to the air.
Things that lived once, like man’s trash never did,
things that belonged to the land, in life,
and still do now that they have passed.
Bones of deer, bones of raccoon
— possum, mouse, fox, rabbit,
shrew and toad, snake and turtle,
fish and starling, coyote and groundhog.
Each foot of the yard takes a handful of lives,
souls clinging to these old white relics,
interred at last below the surface of the dirt
where once they ran, slept, played, ate, fucked, flew;
a foundation for a forest of spirits.
In places, hints of white peep an inch or so
above the soil: I do not dig deep, but wide,
and these spikes — ribs, femurs, tibia —
seem like the poles of an old fence,
whiter by far than any sun-bleached wood could ever be.
They tell me they are glad to be there,
buried with love and care, spoken to with respect,
whether they died a natural death
— starvation, winter cold, predation, disease —
or at the end of a hail of shot,
or under the tires of a car,
or leg-caught in the top wires of a fence
they couldn’t quite jump over,
or spasming out their lives after eating poisoned bait.
I do this, I lift them gently, set them down,
cover them over with shallow shovelfuls of dirt,
singing to them, whispering the names they’ve told me,
partly of desire, partly of remorse, partly in redemption:
am I not born of that same species
that sends so many who are not like us
to their doom? Whether to save our crops,
put food on my table, or through accident,
unable to stop a car gone too fast
when lithe leap of brown flashes in front,
still so many of these deaths can be laid at our table.
And so, if you will,
call me builder, call me gravedigger,
call me deathsinger, call me friend.
Just let me do my duty and my joy,
watch if you must, but do not interfere,
and do not doubt that these who I lay to rest
are as real to me as you are
and sometimes more.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s