Goin’ to Dirt
The Poet Darkling
Daddy died bringing in the corn. Heart attack. It was hot; the hottest August I’d ever known. I was bringing him his dinner when I found him, laying on his back on top of the corn stubble, looking straight up at the noonday sun. He was grinnin’ a big ol’ grin, and I knew soon as I saw him that he was okay ‘cause he was with Momma again. Daddy always was a happy man except for missing Momma. He used to talk about how he couldn’t wait to get back to her.
We’d always just scraped by, Daddy and me, but the hens’d laid more that month than I could ever eat without him, so I sold most of them and some of the hens, too. Together, they fetched me enough to buy him a fairly nice going-away suit from Bertie’s shop. Daddy would’ve thought it an extravagance, but I couldn’t see him going to dirt in his overalls; no sir. Wouldn’t’ve been right. Bertie took pity on me and threw in a tie. She let me pick it out, too, so I picked a blue one to match his eyes. Bertie always did have a soft spot for Daddy, even if she didn’t care for me none.
I buried Daddy myself, seein’ as how I had nobody left on Earth to help me. I put him in the backfield under the old oak, next to Momma and Baby Joey. It took me all day and night to dig the hole, and he was starting to stink already ‘cause of the heat, but I’d sewn him up in a quilt and kept him out near the smokehouse, so’s the bugs didn’t get to him too bad. The preacher wouldn’t’ve come for him and I wouldn’t’ve have asked him to. Daddy and Momma never went to church. I did, though.
I’d gone ‘til we lost the mule, so I knew the Good Book pretty darn good. I read over Daddy from the Bible he kept in his bureau drawer, Psalm 25, “To you, O Lord, I lift my soul, to you I lift my soul.” When I finished, a dried carnation fell like a teardrop from the Bible. It was from Momma’s wedding bouquet, and at first, I tried to catch it, but down it went, and it seemed right, so I let it flutter on down on top of my Daddy. Then I put the dirt on him and he was right buried, and I was right alone.
It was hard without Daddy, but I carried on fair enough. Nevertheless, that miserable August saw me bringin’ in the corn alone, sweating like a hog under the miserable summer sun, alone. I got it all in, though, and as I sat on the porch that last dawn of summer, the sun peaked out and lit the sky a deep purple streaked with orange and gold before disappearing behind the crisp rush of fall, and I cried.
The Poet Darkling is a poet, lyricist, author and freelance writer. Following her own doctrine of “Live first; learn later,” The Poet Darkling is pursuing her MA in English and Creative Writing with a concentration in poetry at Southern New Hampshire University, where she also earned her BA in Creative Writing and English, with a concentration in poetry and a minor in professional writing in 2017. The Poet Darkling is a proud member of the Sigma Tau Delta (Alpha Pi Psi) and Alpha Sigma Lambda (Sigma Psi) honor societies. When she is not writing or plotting her bid for Poet Laureate of the United States, Darkling enjoys talking to herself, wandering around aimlessly and poking dead critters with sticks.