Shovel

by Steven Kennedy

          

But ye, I get the shovel and go out in it. Bit by the cold. I suck in and swear into my collar. Head down but it is not a prayer saying jesus christ goddamn, but it is not a prayer. Snow comes down, dull and down. The driveway is gone. My car is nestled at its far end, far from the road, covered in the snow. Look up and snow and the snow is like the upstairs neighbor’s footsteps on the ceiling, always stepping in heavy plodding boots above me. Want to scream at them to take a seat! Do you ever sit? I want to ask. Goddamn jesus christ, but it is no prayer. Look up and it is snow and I scream into my collar to take a seat. I am in it, past my shoes. I am in it, wrapped heavy in cloth. The key is layers. The key is tucking your shirt into your pants, tucking your long johns into your socks. Horde the heat from your body for your body. It is good to be warm. I am majority coat standing here in my driveway. I am small—have to dig me out of these wraps for I am buried. The neighbor’s windows look down at me. Feel small under the eyes of the neighbor’s house. I trudge to the back wheels of my car—I’ll start here. I’ll dig towards the road. Bring the shovel down in it. The snow is light and the shovel goes unexpectedly deep. I lift and dump it in the planter between our driveway and the neighbors. Ye, I shovel. Alas, I dig, digging myself out by shovel. Strange, I say into my collar. I am small and of course I am buried. This is how we are—buried. We knead our hands over and over against the stuff of our burying to make our dens, our little holes to live in. Knead, knead with our small hands to make small places. We need to knead...but avast ye, you are not all that clever. If you were clever, you would’ve parked at the end of the driveway, near the road. But this is maybe good. Maybe this is maybe good to start a day like this, to work, to put effort forth and say yes to the day. Yes, you are worth it. I will try. Give it your word. Yes to this day. Shovel the snow into the planter. Repeat yes into my collar. Hear a voice. I look up and it is the neighbor’s head sticking out her window. Better not, she says and it takes a beat for me to understand that what she is saying is better not be putting snow into her driveway. You do that and I’ll tell my husband, she says and I nod. She nods and I give her my word. Yes, I say and she closes the window. jesus christ goddamn lady, I say into my collar and continue to shovel this white shit we call snow. Cold bites and I feel it in my feet. The cold makes me know the small pieces of me: my toes, the skin across my wrists, the soft swatch tucked under my nostrils. Sniff. My nose is running. I am leaking here in my driveway, running out. Look up and it is snow. Look back and it is snow already piling again in the trenches I have just dug. I have not done much. But ye, I am out in it.

Steven Kennedy is an MFA student at San Francisco State University.

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October 2018

© 2020 by The Esthetic Apostle