I drove back
382 miles and
To what’s no longer a home.
Searching for something.
I killed him years ago,
But, we have unfinished business.
The shovel is so cold to the touch,
Sad to think that that such a thing
Puts one in the ground
Can dig one back up again.
He lay their 39 years, just outside my bedroom window
When I was a child and I killed him.
It is dark now, rural dark, not like you NYC folks,
So dark that only the demon eyes of your childhood stare back at you.
I trace my steps, though much bigger and slower now, but no less scared, maybe more,
to 10 ½ feet just outside the willow tree.
She’s still standing, towering over it, like his anger
That drove him in it.
I hesitate; I look around at what was my identity
That no longer belongs to me, and I think that if I get …
Let me just dig a little first, I will fit nicely …
I dig in slow motion unconcerned about waking those sleeping
Unconcerned about waking him.
It is too dark to see, but I feel myself sinking
Sinking deeper into the clay-laden earth of Western New York.
I think, though numb, will some skin still be there?
Will the head I so often touched be unrecognizable to me?
Will there be his coat of tan and black and grey?
I panic, as the soil moans and the shovel screams less discrete
She’s warm to the touch now and is caressing something,
There is a flash and a bang from up above.
I recognize it as my father’s window, right next to mine
Followed by the bathroom.
I felt a pulsating shock roar through my chest and something warm
Ooze all over me, then I heard another
Blowing my leg out from under me, and another
Killing the shovel this time.
I dropped into his grave.
The score is even now.
I was guilty when six, maybe seven,
When I rode over his paw with my Tonka truck.
He wanted to kill me but didn’t.
A week later my dad killed him with three shots
Just out of the window over there.
He attacked my dad, you see, because I made him angry when I rolled my truck
Over his paw.
I am 382 miles from home now.
Can you take me back to my daughter and son?
Earl Yarington (LMSW) is a social worker and school bus driver. He taught literature and writing for nearly 20 years and spent 3 years working in forensic social work internships with offending populations, including work at Delaware Correctional facilities and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He has a PhD in literature and criticism (feminism/women writers) from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Master of Social Work from Louisiana State University, and an interdisciplinary Master of Liberal Arts from Arizona State University, where he studied the impact of visual image and girlhood in media/social media. He also has an MA and BS in English from SUNY College at Brockport. The opinions and analyses that Earl writes are his own and are not necessarily the positions or views of his employers, the agencies he supports, or that of his colleagues. Reach out with comments or questions.