The Twenty-First Century

I’m digging a pit in my front yard, but I keep hitting
rocks. My spade crunches against the small ones,
unpleasant, friction-heavy sound but the large ones
go clunk! And I have to stop to pull them out, knees
bent like my father taught me, back straight, lifting
with my legs. The pile grows and grows as I dig
deeper. Soon I’ll have built a solid cairn beside my
pit, with a small, symbolic doorway for spirits to crawl
through, if only there were any spirits here.
My neighbor sidles over with his radio and two cold
cans of beer. He admires my hole but seems confused
about what he calls “that damned pile of rocks” so I
explain how people in ancient times raised a pyramid
of rough stones for a memorial of some event, or to
mark the grave of a prominent member of the tribe
or as a boundary or landmark on a sacred mountain top
or holy spring. We sip our beers, white clouds spatter
across the afternoon sky. War news on the radio, naked
prisoners, wedding party blown to hell. “Yeah,” he says,
rubbing hands on the knees of his jeans, leaning to spit
in the hole, “twenty-first century’s sure going well so far.”

Steve Klepetar

If you've any comments on this poem, Steve Klepetar would be pleased to hear from you.