The shovels stood in a sticky underbelly of earth
as we stepped from the sidelines for him,
peeling our jackets, the boys loosening their ties.
Soon there was clay on our church-going gear
and his voice coming out of our childhood
coaching us to put our backs into it.
Flowers and fine words had never touched the man
like work, grunts behind a shovel’s bite,
the clean sound of clods as we heaved them in. Digging,
we bowed in memory of his stooped solid shape.
The dark damp weight of earth,
a provision, a very last word.