Years later, my father would try
to explain, why after shoveling dirt
for three hours in the vault of a neighbor’s
son, he’d abandoned me in an empty grave.
And no matter how much I wailed,
“Pa, the duppies are coming after me,”
he calmly chiseled the boy’s name
into the headstone and said, “I hope you
have learned to fear nothing, except God.”
Toward noon, I fell asleep with one thought:
Is this what it felt like to die so young?
To never find the meaning of your name?
When I emerged by torchlight from the tomb,
covered in dirt, I was no longer his son.