Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Resurrection of Bert Ringold

The Resurrection of Bert Ringold

There is a time to dig, there is a time
to dig up the dead, a time to cut away
the surface—the sweet green grass
and the pink and white flowers
finicky in the fresh morning breeze.

There is a time to get down, to hack
at the clay with a pick, to lift the
backaching dirt with a rusty shovel,
to lift big rocks—barehanded, fingers
bleeding—a time to chop through the
roots of trees with a Boy Scout hatchet.

Salt sweat stings your eyes and
the air smells bad, dead.
At sunset your pick hits the casket.
The sound is final, dead.
It’s going to be a nightmare in there.
You imagine the worst: bones
smirking through rotten flesh, busy
phosphorescent maggots.

But you go on anyway
because you can’t turn back.
With a childish prayer and a crowbar
you pry open the lid of the casket.

Inside, a nice surprise: inside there is nothing
but a diamond, a crystal as big
as a Civil War cannonball.
It shines from within, it dazzles your eyes
like late afternoon sunshine blazing
on the Mississippi River, once upon a time
between Memphis and Natchez.
It must be worth millions.

You carry it home in a brown paper sack.
It sits somewhat dull on your desk
while you imagine the things that you’ll buy
as soon as you’ve sold it: a car, a condo,
the Caribbean, a big bunch of girls.

Then the diamond as big as a Civil War cannonball
lights up and sings; it lights up and sings
English folk songs from the Southern Appalachians.
It sings them as sweetly as starlight
and you know in your heart that you’ll keep it
for as long as you possibly can.

Copyright © 2007 by Harvey Goldner. All rights reserved.

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