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Tree Stump

                                    Steve Cushman


My wife and I dug into
the hard ground to remove
the dead dogwood
while my neighbor loaded
his guitar into his new car
waved to us in his shades and
flip flops, said he had a gig to play,
and how I wished I had a gig to play,
but there was no gig for me to play,
so on that Saturday in May
we kept digging,
past dirt, past orange clay,
past root and worm,
past little yellow plastic army figures,
and when it was almost dark and my back was tired
and the only thing I could think of
were those cold beers waiting for me
my shovel hit something solid
and I dug it out, dug out this
black rock that I thought might
be shale and my wife laughed
and said it was probably coal and I held
it up to what was left of the sun
and the rock was covered in dirt so I threw it
on the ground to crack it to get to its core
to see what was inside and in there
it was shiny and black with flakes of silver
and I lifted the rock to my nose and smelled it
and it smelled like nothing and it smelled like earth
and every perfect thing we hide away
so I slid it in my pocket and went back
to work to get this stump out of the ground
to try and get to the heart of this thing.


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