Saturday, August 1, 2009

Beer for my Gravediggers

That first cold sip of beer
grave dust dry on your lips
is a miracle
payment for doing Gods work
Heaving the soil onto the hallowed emptiness
each shovelful echoing dully
around the small shape inside the box
The emptiness that used to be a man
After that work, a cold beer is something holy
The can sweating, you roll it's unopened coldness
between dry hands and across your neck
It's cheap beer, but cold
you welcome that rushing hiss and the following
long drink of chilly wetness washing away
the parched, dust dry, cotton mouth
of grave-digging in the desert sun
Filled, you look at the mound you've made, higher,
the volume of a box, than the surrounding earth
The women place flowers, and the men stand leaning
on shovel handles, and old men on their sons
The honor guard quietly away, silver piping rippling
glittering across their blues in the coming-noon sun
as they slip off, duty done, strangers as they came
Rough hands at your shoulder, grabbing, squeezing
You smile, nod, shake hands and drink your beer
A man, alive, standing among men
in the little desert churchyard, tens of miles from a town
Grave dust on your hands, covering your boots
a promise

No comments: