Water poured from a boot is extreme. It wasn't raining like that, but it was raining hard. Harry Tackett dug most of the grave with a JCB 3CX backhoe, the arm stretching out, reaching toward us, then the dip of the bucket and another clump of sandstone and soil, bits of fingernail coal tossed at the edge of the fence lining the cemetery.
I hadn't been on a burial where at least four or five family members didn't have shovels, but none were needed here. Harry and the JCB worked without emotion and the grave happened fast.
That night I noticed my shoes were caked with dirt and streaked here and there with blades of grass stuck in the eyeholes and strings. I took out his shoeshine box and punched my fingers around the polish rags until I found the Kiwi can.
And though it was December, I went to the porch with my shoes in my lap and ragged them for half an hour, my breath smoke signals in the streetlamps. I ragged them until my knuckles ached, each one pounding under the skin, marble-sized hearts working in the cold.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
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