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Then What

for M.

Four years after burying the cat she decided to dig it up.
The gardening spade used to plant flowers along the porch,
she would dig with that. Surely the skeleton would tell her
something, but if it didn’t, then what? When she pushed
the spade into the ground the moon was low
over her shoulder, like her father. Below the roots
of grass the earth was soft. She dug with her hands.
Isn’t it enough to be curious? That would be the answer if questioned,
though she didn’t plan to share this with many.
And behind her on the clothesline, a blouse and the white underwear
she meant to retrieve earlier but was distracted by a phone call.
She remembered the grave deeper, but in minutes
touched something brittle and curved. The underwear billowed
in a breeze that grew into a gust and glowed over her and the grave.


This poem first appeared in Issue 33, Vol. 2, 2007.


Rick Bursky is the author of Let’s Become a Ghost Story (BOA Editions, 2020), I’m No Longer Troubled By the Extravagance (BOA Editions, 2015); Death Obscura (Sarabande, 2010); the Dorothy Brusnman Poetry Prize-winning The Soup of Something Missing (Bear Star Press, 2004), and the chapbook The Invention of Fiction (Hollyridge Press, 2005). He received his BFA from Art Center College of Design and an MFA from Warren Wilson College.