I went with him into the hole. I was trying to be with him, the way anyone might follow a lover, the one we hope would touch us in darkness. I wasn’t seeking words, or a game I could letter out like scrabble, building language from what I had. He never spoke. We scrambled down ramps made by machines, ankle turning earth, soft where wind collects. He carried a shovel, a pair of gloves, a rag to wipe what might be found. He shuffled. His hunch was the kind that marred old men, the homeless, those demented by drink. He moved earth to see what might be hidden inside. Dogs followed us, but the streets were empty, the sky. Not a radio burbled. When he handed me the shovel, I had to dig. He corrected my hands. He showed me where to strike with the blade. I tried not to look him in the eye. They were rebuilding this part of the city, opening what had been impossible to reach. He kept his hands on his knees as I sweated. Finally, he took the shovel from me. When he found what he was looking for, he threw it at me—some piece of glass, some evidence of what had made him, what was done before this.
Laura Madeline Wiseman
Laura Madeline Wiseman’s recent books are Drink (BlazeVOX Books), Wake (Aldrich Press), and The Bottle Opener (Red Dashboard). She teaches in Nebraska. Her collaborative book Intimates and Fools (Les Femmes Folles) with artist Sally Brown Deskins, is an Honor Book for the 2015 Nebraska Book Award.
Artwork: Christina Varotsis, “Glowing”