What We Put Down
Leaning on shovels, wiping sweat from their brows,
The boys signal me come on as I back the wheels
Of the sputtering Ford up to the grave’s ridge.
Two hop in the bed and begin to push
The horse’s carcass, a few days dead,
While I grab the snout and drag her in.
The maggots burrowing through its chest
Seem unperturbed. Like bats from a cave
The flies exit the missing skin.
The thump of body and snap of bones
Makes me crack my knuckles, then we drive
Across an acre into the cover of oaks, park,
And walk back as the sun creeps over the earth.
We watch, shovels across our bodies,
Stiff as statues, until we see them circling
In the reddening morning. The buzzards descend,
Their mangled wings riding the air like a plague,
And they begin to tear into what we put down.
As their bellies plump, their beaks devour,
We tiptoe up to the grave, and wait until
All their eyes are down.
We bury them, and we bury them more,
And we take off our boots to stamp the dirt
Until their voices are swallowed.
Walking back to the car, I wipe the mud on my jeans,
Take pensive steps in the softened earth.
We load the truck, hop in. The boys tell me
Leave the windows down, smell the coming rain.