Rite II

The Committal

Another small death. My stepfather
slips on his boots and jacket, retrieves
a shovel from the shed. Christmas morning
and the sun honeys over

the field, glazing each frosted
blade white-gold. Does this look
, he says, gesturing at the grass, and I say
it does, so he pushes the lip

of the shovel into the frozen ground
and cleaves it. Earth to earth,
his elbows say. His reddened
fingers around the wooden handle;

the ground blooming
and open; his shoulders
hunched; breath heavy;
forehead knit. He kneels

to place her cold body
in the grave. Hands on his knees,
he lingers a moment, then stands,
scooping up loose earth

by the shovelful, packing it gently
with the back of the blade.
I didn’t know love looked like this,
a wet elegy;

sweat seeping
from the rim of his hat.

Victoria Hudson is an MFA candidate at the University of Arkansas. She reads poetry for the Arkansas International.