A Novel Excerptby Nathan Poole
Gadsden, South Carolina
He stepped off the shoulder and lifted the long handle away from his body to open a smile in the wet clay. He was getting it all confused now, forgetting what they were doing here. At one point they were just a man and a woman digging, pointlessly, in the rain on the cusp of a flood. And then he would see the cheap sandstone monuments lain crookedly all around him and he would remember and feel his skin grown tight and cool, a dark feeling passing over his mind. A body under his feet somewhere.
The father, if he were alive, would not care very much for him. But what does a body know? Is a body only sleeping? He was trying not to think about it, that’s all he was doing—he could hear the hardness of the Latin coming through on the opening. Ex. And then the softness would flow after, like the whites of an egg breaking. Humare. An incantation. A prayer. Give us today this body, this unsprouted seed, and forgive us our thriving bodies, our taking.
Claire had come that morning to get her father before the flood washed the lower cemetery off, the place where Adams and Weston allowed their people to be buried. Allowed. Think of that. Think of it now. And she had brought Lawrence with her that morning because she needed his help and Lawrence owed her. There was nothing he did not owe her.