They Placed a Wreath Upon His Door
She was face up on the creek bank when we found her. Face covered in one of Harlan’s wet shirts. We ran her up to my house and laid her out on the bed in the front room, river stink and all. I pinched her nose and breathed into her mouth, lit by the prism of light that beat into the room at that time of day.
I looked into her glassy eyes and pumped her chest. “Dammit, Sister. Live, you hear me?”
She never listened to me in life, so I don’t suppose it surprised anybody that she defied me at the end.
No doctor could get back in our hollow during the Depression, and if one did, I couldn’t have paid him, especially not to pronounce her dead. So, we gritted our teeth. Sent my boy up and down the ancient slot canyons to round up the family. Dressed her in pink. She was real pretty. It was almost like she breathed again.
I helped them move her to the pine box myself. Wanted to hold her one last time before we put her in the ground.
The last thing I did before we nailed the lid shut was reach in that box for one last squeeze of her hand.