Burial

Burial
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Picture Credits: Pete Linforth

I. I buried it

Flat, rough, and hard against my back, the bottom of the boat rubs, presses. Under that, cool and free, water smooths against the boat and holds it up, holds me up. Blue sky fills up my eyes and I swallow it down my throat with fluffy white clouds. Whatever he’s doing, the sky saw it. Whatever he’s doing, the lake witnessed. Whatever he’s doing, my body sucked it up inside of me, covered it with layers of blood and mucus, buried it deep inside my muscles, wrapped around my bones. My body sucked it up inside of me, buried it deep inside my muscles, wrapped around my bones, hidden from my brain that remembers.

Now I’m shaken from outside in, trembling from inside out. Aching in my chest squeezes my heart against my breast bone. The inside of me is trying to rip out through my skin. Build a wall, kick them out, round them up, rip it down. Trump trundles into the brightest light and skitters around saying nothing at first, each bit of nonsense stacking on top of the last, until he builds a tower to throw his proclamations from. And by election day he has amassed power by waving around the weapons that were stuffed into the pockets of his soldiers: your pussy is a goody bag, your skin is a target, your love is kindling, your need is a funeral knell.

II. She buried it

I’ve spent decades with my back against the boat, my eyes full of sky. My mother and I talked about it for the first time in my thirties. She was small and sad when she told me that she and my stepdad were so worried, I just wasn’t acting right after the visit with my father. They took me to the doctor because I was having problems down there. ‘Sexual abuse?’ asked the doctor. I didn’t hear it then, but when my mother tells me this, I shudder deep inside, and what’s buried shifts just a little.

I got a message from his mother on the heels of my conversation with mine. My grandmother’s words are shaped by Michigan and punctuated with gasps for breath against lungs constricting and filling with mucus. She says she knows I’m mad at her. But she doesn’t like the lies my mother is telling about my father, her son. She knows he’s done a lot of bad things, she says, but my mother is no angel either. She says the end of the world is at hand and liars will not go to heaven. Her words swim in my head, punch down my throat. They push into the spaces where it is hidden; she buries it down deeper.

Swing set metal creaking, creaking under the weight of a wrong. Rush of storm in my belly, dry brush catching there, snapping into flame. Dirt beneath the swings rising up, its powder sticking to my shoes, coating my legs. I grab her doll with as much force as I can gather, throw it into that dirt, pound it so hard into the ground that dust rises back up again. Stomping, stomping, soft head yielding under my shoe, squish against my arch, face crumpling, covered in powder. Stomp, stomp, stomp, squish, face, body, residue. Her wails rising above our heads, spiraling there, twisting through the air, over the fence, into her mother’s ear. Mother in front of me, short voice, finger sharp into my chest. Finger poking into the flames, flames that go icy under her touch. “You’re in big trouble, Missy.” Ice cold frozen flames licking against my rib cage, bile rising in my throat, rage buried.

III. We buried it

When my daughter was seven, we found a dead mouse. It was lying in the grass, on its back, with its limbs splayed wide. “We need to bury it,” she said. I asked her why. She didn’t tell me about funerals or heaven or putting mousie to bed. She didn’t want to make a marker or headstone for the grave. She wanted to bury the mouse so that its flesh would decompose into the earth. She wanted to bury the mouse so that we could dig it up and look at its skeleton. She wanted to bury the mouse to see deconstruction and transformation that happens deep below the surface. We scraped and chiseled ground so hard that we only managed a shallow furrow for the mouse’s tiny body. We buried it.

The morning after the election, she surfaces out of sleep, uncovers her warm brown body, eyes shining. She says she fell asleep before Hilary became president. Locks eyes with me. Waits. The silence pushes against us, into our throats, against our temples. “She didn’t win, baby.” She clenches her jaw, grinds her teeth, narrows her eyes. Brown eyes small. She squeezes her hands into fists, growls: “I will punch Donald Trump in the face.” Eyes float behind tears, lips press together. I say words: justice, together, work, change. She softens her face and says: “I bet he loves his family.”

Bury us and shield your eyes from the brilliance that erupts through the surface of the shit you’ve piled on top of us. Bury us beneath your probing and groping and terrorizing to witness the alchemy of love and rage. Bury us so deep you’re sure we’ll suffocate. Bury us. We will intertwine with each other in the darkness and produce a root ball bursting into revolution.

Kelly Jeske

Kelly Jeske

Kelly Jeske is a queer femme, mama, social worker, and writer who engages love, connection, and art as agents of cultural change. Kelly's writing has appeared in anthologies published by Soft Skull Press, Demeter Press, and Praeger; and in The Rumpus, Nailed Magazine, The Adoption Constellation, and Brain, Child (online). Kelly was a finalist for the 2016 Orlando Creative Nonfiction Prize.

Kelly Jeske is a queer femme, mama, social worker, and writer who engages love, connection, and art as agents of cultural change. Kelly's writing has appeared in anthologies published by Soft Skull Press, Demeter Press, and Praeger; and in The Rumpus, Nailed Magazine, The Adoption Constellation, and Brain, Child (online). Kelly was a finalist for the 2016 Orlando Creative Nonfiction Prize.

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