TENDING THE GARDEN / Eric Pankey A prisoner-of-war graveyard outside the disciplinary camp of Brodno in Volynia after Pierre Gasear The clod of earth in his shovel was a familiar weight he had lifted and set aside all day. His hands, by noon, were a dull orange of rust. If in the wood's damp shadow white smoke lifted through the branches, he did not see it, nor did he hear the whistle yet, releasing steam-- its sound trailing behind the train, the train moving toward him and the other prisoners --some digging graves, some planting flowers. AU he knew of death was its weight as he lowered them by worn ropes to the moist soil dark with leafmold. He knew that each day there would be new dead. It did not matter. It was a matter of waiting: in a barbed fence. typhus, pneumonia, a frail body limp He leaned on his shovel and listened to the train's slow jolting as it emerged from the trees. He knew he could dig all day At a certain depth he would climb out and begin again. There was no other end. It was best to have a few dug in
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Oct 5, 1983
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