by Allen Strous

I am my shovel,
I am my brown tooth,
an upright and downward projection,
slender Maypole, so much, if nearly two-dimensional,
that the streamers of this cemetery wind around me,
scatter of stones and leafless maples,
a few small lights of color from artificial flowers,
the sigh of new grass under a cloudy sky,
the small ceremonies, elaborations of the funeral.
So many seem to die at the end of winter, a breath exhaled.

I trust all the spatterings that make up the day here.
The blank of grief is land used, built over
by the gossip of the death hammering, the structures of family plots,
while on the supposed-to-be-velvet trimming hooked to the frame that
will lower the casket--
look to the back--big spots like dirty bruises,
more my own reality,
wet feet in leaky shoes, my needs-to-be-washed coat
with mud of different subsoils, varieties of excremental clays.

I stand
and I dig in,
the pole of this world at the crest of this hill-climbing cemetery,
a pole with a light turning to check,
establishing points of view.
A point of view, just by itself,
cut out of circumstances, fallen out of its setting, is flawless,
so, for the morning, with this work, I see
that I am the shovel and the edge of the shovel
with contempt, that sharp and thin,
for these I put under,
this different race--
so much here making them so,
and this repeated motion of mine.
It is here like an eternity, and I partake.

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

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