“Death is a mystery, and burial is a secret.” – Stephen King, Pet Sematary
I catch my breath in the humid dark,
the rain unsure of itself
and the insects, anonymous, pinching vaguely at my arms, nudging me on.
As periwinkle folds its wings on the night, I hurry
so the kids at the church preschool next door
won’t ask what I’m doing.
My shovel reveals red roots
buried wires, live I think,arteries
in the damp dirt that is so much more accommodating
than the dust of the west.
In Bannack, Montana
we sat in antique schoolroom desks,
peered out the narrow windows of the Hotel Meade,
and my sister asked, If this is a ghost town, where are the graves?
This morning I woke at 4:00,
the kitten I found yesterday by my shoulder.
She had soiled herself
and when I lifted her head, there was only weight.
I transferred her body to a towel,
and washed her,
as one might with a wedding ring.
I bring her outside in a plastic Walmart bag
but can’t bear the way it looks in the ground
so I unwrap it
and when I pick her up, the body curls gently
into a gray circle, a cat moon, a lone satellite
in the earth.
An order replays in the echoing caves
of my ear or brain:
Take off your shoes, for you stand on holy ground.
Across the street, the ambulances test their sirens in short whoops.
On my knee: a red ant. Winged.
Some insects move so quickly but without grace.
From the window, my tomcat watches,
his eyes golden,
I wonder if he knows, then think