On a cool morning of false rain,
like this morning,
when the low and shameless gray sky
refuses to shed tears,
our rusting spades bite chunks from the hard red clay.
We make slow but steady progress,
as if the iron earth will refuse him, too.
‘Bout halfway down to the Promised Land,
having buried our lifeless criticisms of incarceration,
the four of us’ve said nothing,
beyond weary sighs and shifty eyes
at the shoddy fit of the box of yellow pine
featuring only an ancient prisoner ID# in flat-black paint.
Of a sudden, clouds rend for a paternal sun,
peering down to impart a gentle wisdom:
At the four corners where meet
Ignorance and Knowledge, Brutality and Culture
we will find the merciful dignity
with which to treat our dead.
Noses rebelling against musts of labor and mortality
upon lowering him into the cold ground,
our spades direct an onomatopoeia of dirt pattering onto the box,
lending this prisoner, this man his final voice—
ha-rumpf … ha-rumpf … ha-rumpf—
to continue in death the path he chose in life;
he who would refuse all who would refuse him.