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July 2016, vol 12 no 2

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Tim Gardiner

Sad Hill

In the cemetery of ten thousand dead I work the arid soil, a thankless task in oppressive midday heat. The meager wage means the only reward is providing a measure of dignity for the deceased. I stop to mop my blistered brow. A pale lizard scurries up a nearby cross, basking for a few moments before seeking shade somewhere else. A vulture circles overhead, waiting to pick clean my tired bones. Sad Hill is a lonely place; there are few visitors, even in summer. Sometimes, I talk to the dead; tell them tales of infamous outlaws and mining towns abandoned after the gold rush faded away.

spadeful of dirt
a grasshopper leaps
into the open grave