The year was lost.
The whole thing buried with a pitchfork,
first a stab & twist a lank of grass,
then a stab of dirt. Roots. Keep going.
More dirt, sour and salty,
then the gray rime of clay & gravel.
Make it bigger.
Then kick the year into it.
The dark night of remorse, false dawn promises,
all those soul-numbing hours of waiting.

It didn’t take long.
Amy looked at the heap of worry in the sour hole.
Might be a clump of rags.
The furry smear found on a roadside.

Nothing to say.
She kicked & worried the dirt
then lay the fork flat to tamp it down.
Stood there and let her heart slow.
A buzz of insects. Something at her ear.

To the south across the fields
a lone car slowed for the turn,
gunned out of it.
Its metal carapace flashed in &
out of the roadside brush.
Engine grew loud, insistent.
Amy stood very still.
Crescendo and tire song.
Nobody comes out this way.
You feed a burn barrel,
keep the rest. Plant potatoes
by the dark of the moon.
She stared at the rough ground
& let the car sound pass, then fade away.

Travis Stephens is a tugboat captain who resides with his family in California. A graduate of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, recent credits include: Gyroscope Review, 2river, Prime Number Magazine, Sheila-Na-Gig, Miletus, and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.