There is this need,
she says, winding his percale shroud
tighter around his feet as she sews,
to forget the last week, to remind
ourselves this is just a snakebite
his life ended on when we weren't looking.
The rain, she continues, washes away
what he wants to stain us with.
She bites a piece of thread in two,
threads the last needle and stitches,
his feet tied together with fishing line.
Out here, she reminds me, we take care
of things like this ourselves. Why pay drinking
money to a gravedigger, she asks me, as she slips
more of the lead sinkers and lopped rebar into the last
slit gaping like an empty socket, whipstiches it closed.
He loved fishing more than me, she sighs, as we
lift him up the way he and I used to hoist deer
carcasses from the truck to the shed. The everlasting
waters, he called them, she says under her breath.
Don't waste tears, she warns me. The bastard.
Way past the bridge and up from the causeway
we unload, carry, push him in until the water grasps him,
the river's mouth opening dark and hungry,
lips closing around him as he sinks silently, the current
whispering secrets we pretend not to hear,
trying not to conjure the errors of desirable phantoms,
injustices of the heart, gentle as an adder licking a wound.