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The Ground
© by Sheryl Massaro

His people buried Jack the dog and his cancer
in a sweet corner of the back yard
just a few weeks after we laid Dad with Mom
five rows down from the headstone of "Flossie,

His Wife" in a cemetery for those who fight our wars.
A dog here, ashes there-these are dead things
we move below the level of air and sun.
When did the ancients first think to dig a hole?
For eons, there must never have been a need.
People roamed the ground's grasses and stones
and left the dead where they lay.

History doesn't dwell on the invention of the dug hole,
but it seems it should rival the invention of the wheel.
With holes, mankind could grow food, mark boundaries,
hide treasures, build cities. Anything people wanted
out of mind could be placed out of sight.

We modern folk know better. We have learned
nothing remains hidden forever in the ground.
Not our toxins, not our towns, not even our beloved.
We've seen the ground swell or split or burn to a crisp.
We've seen it drown and lose its grip. We know
it has its own life, yet still we give it our dead.

Some believe that the final frontier is the mind,
or space, but they are wrong. It is the ground.

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