The Post and Courier Prize
1963, Mont Eagle, Tennessee
In our family we dug our own graves,
saved reels of gray Super-8 in the basement.
I remember a family-night viewing
of the dig days before my uncle’s
cancer had won. He took to the business,
his two brothers merely company,
with extra shovels in late fall;
the graininess ghosted the close-up
of his straight-on face and smile
before a jerk of the camera focused on ground.
Left empty for ten days, that hole appeared
on film for three seconds
until the relatives present
remained to scoop earth on blood.
changes from image to image.
My nails dig deep in my palm
and I watch the skin return,
fill the blemish, dissolve the mark.