Retrieving the Dead
The losing army litters the roads we’ve paved.
We ride on the dead, getting to town, going home.
The dark raccoon, a sun-blind dog at midday.
We slow, drive in low gear till the guilt’s blown.
Rain and maggots take the flesh. But,
sometimes the stench sticks in our entrails.
We have our own stones, the smell ruins a veal cut;
a neighbor calls the town council
and I come in jeans with a shovel and an orange truck.
All summer the roads tally bodies like bumps
of fur and blood from route 11 to Walnut.
I peel the carnage, haul the dead to the dump,
lift the soldiers up, try not to breathe till they’re tossed
into our trenches of tea bags, messed diapers, spare parts.
First published in Northwords Now, 2008.