After the planting’s done, the rows of pansies and marigolds covered and watered,

the roses tethered,

I go on digging, obsessively delving into dirt with my little blade, forming a wound

which I gradually widen,

scraping soil and shale from the hole, piling it up on the lip, tossing out bits of quartz

and schist.

Burrowing—furious as a badger—I uncover a netherworld of crawling, sliding things

that gleam and scatter from the light:

black, iridescent beetles, weevils and panicked ants, clumps of grubs writhing in golden 


a pair of coiled snails, a nest of sexless worms (their skin so thin you can see through  


and further down, the husk of a locust, one gossamer wing miraculously intact, latched

to the thorax.

This is the world of undertakers: calm, black-suited men, who, as the priest invokes

the clouds,

stand at graveside looking down, where it begins.

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—Jen Bryant
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