The sound of his shotgun split open the silence of the morning,
its echo carrying across the street. And now—the police having
questioned her and the coroner having just removed the body—
I volunteer to take care of what was left, in the dirt behind their tree.
He’d done it there so she couldn’t see him from the kitchen
window, just as she can’t see me now, here, among the iris and lilies,
beyond the white birch (sky clear, breeze humming in the trees).
I take a breath and lift the shovel. I dig deep, turning the dirt
over again and again until the circle of bloody soil is face-down,
then I spread more clean dirt on top— burying any physical trace.
Weeks later, she’ll come to me, needing to know about my final
moments with her husband. I’ll say I talked to him while I shoveled,
wishing him peace after all of his suffering; that I couldn’t believe
how pristine the sky was; that it seemed as if the birds kept me company
on purpose. I’ll tell her I rinsed my shovel and, not wanting her to see it,
tossed it over the gate to pick up later—that I can’t remember
walking home or putting the shovel back in its place; that my body
felt heavy and I slept for hours without dreaming. Looking back,
I’ll realize that to someone standing in the yard—someone who
didn’t know—it would look as if the earth had just been cultivated,
tilled and re-tilled for planting, on any Wednesday in early spring.
Published in Poet Lore, October 2017