Shovels (Returning – 5)

How could I know?

I heard his voice, once or twice, faintly through the earth.

Another voice cried ‘mother,’ over me.

How could I know—the final minute and eternity are the same under this ground. I recall himstill, holding me after the pain. After the doctors closed my heavy eyelids on the last glimpse of our daughter in his arms. I heard him then in the fading away, when the words lingered. ‘I will always be with you, Eliza Jane. Always. We shall be together forever.’ How he cried as everything drifted into endlessness.

My companions here are church bells and rain. But I do not recognise this crunch, scrape, flmp over and over. It sounds like…like…digging.

Am I to be moved? I cannot think so. Am I to be joined? By who? By him? Together forever. Could it be?

The soil weighs less heavily on my broken bones, the scattered strands of once thick locks, the things that bind these thoughts. There’s a new voice, gruff but close. ‘Far enough I think. Let’s be done.’

And another. A girl’s. ‘Thank-you,’ then, ‘be careful.’

A third voice mutters priestly words.

Weight again upon me. Warmth. Less darkness. And my sweet with me.


I am…


to rest…

at last.

2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (