Burning the Dictionary
As I dug a hole for the dictionary,
memories dry as baked balsa wood
stacked themselves near the clothesline
where blue sheets billowed in the June sun.
The soil was black & cool. The farmer
who rents the field sowed corn
last year & will next, but now,
green chaos covers the acreage.
I have always enjoyed the contemplative
music a shovel plays in topsoil. None of this
is mine, not even the cords of memory
ranked for so long past the barn
all the way up the hill. Being balsa,
they kept threatening to lift off.
I dug the hole big enough
to hold everything else I needed
to offer up—postcards, refrigerator notes,
seven cassette tapes & a souvenir t-shirt.
If prayer is listening, I have heard,
now & then, something inhuman.
“God” is a syllable I utter when no other fits.
On a day like this last week, I implored “Him”
to dry my tears, but the breeze soothed me.
It may have taken hours. The green
in which I lay was cold & damp
when I stood. After I chucked
the shovel like a spear, I filled the hole—
millions of all-but-nonexistent
splinters, then the ridiculous remnants
of ten years, then the book—lit a match
& watched the fire burn. Past midnight,
everything ash at last, I shoveled the hole smooth
& now yearn for silence even as it soothes me.