“Digging” by Billy Collins
It seems whenever I dig in the woods
on the slope behind this house
I unearth some object from the past—
a shard of crockery or a bottle with its stopper missing,
sometimes a piece of metal, maybe handled
by the dairy farmer who built this house
over a century and a half ago
as civil war waged unabated to the south.
So it’s never a surprise
when the shovel-tip hits a rusted bolt,
or a glass knob from a drawer—
little hands waving from the past.
And today, it’s a buried toy,
a little car with a dent in the roof
and enough flecks of paint to tell it was blue.
Shrouded in a towel, the body of our cat
lies nearby on the ground where I settled her
in the mottled light of the summer trees,
and I still have to widen the hole
and deepen it for her by at least another foot,
but not before I stop for a moment
with the once-blue car idling in my palm,
to imagine the boy who grew up here
and to see that two of the crusted wheels still spin.