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Jennie Vogelsong
Buried Alive
Elizabeth Alexander
It is dark. That is the first thing I know. It is dark and I cannot tell if my eyes are open or closed. I need to know. I do not know why it is important but I need to know if my eyes are open or closed.
I lift my hand in front of my face. My palm touches the tip of my nose and I cannot see my fingers. My eyes are open. I know this. My body responds to me. My toes move and my hand is in front of my face. I blink and there is no difference. The darkness is black and uniform and there is not a speck of light anywhere. It is dark. It is black and my eyes are open.
I don’t know where I am. It is dark and I don’t know where I am. I don’t remember how I got here. I am lying down. The surface is hard beneath me. It is dark and I am lying down. I want to know how far the darkness goes. My hand is resting on my face and I reach out. I stop. My hand has hit something. It is hard-yet-soft. It is just in front of my face. I know because I reach out in front of me and my elbow barely extends.
Something is on top of me. I reach out and it extends the length of my body. I try to spread my arms to the sides and I hit the same hard-yet-soft thing. I stretch my legs and it is beyond my feet and again above my head. I am trapped. I am in a box and it is dark. I do not know where I am.
I am dying. I do not know why I am dying. I am in a box and I am trapped. It is dark and I am dying. I do not know whether to fight or to let it come. I am numb.
I am numb and I am in a box and I am trapped and it is dark and I am dying. A word comes to me. It is a name and it is mine. I say the name into the darkness and it falls.
I am alone. I am alone and I am dying. I do not know why I am dying but I am numb.
I have to get out of here. I do not know why it is important but I have to get out of here. I do not know where I am but I have to get out. It is dark and I am trapped and I am dying and I am alone and I have to get out of here. I push against the hard-yet-soft thing around me. It does not move. Nothing changes. It is dark and I am in a box and I am trapped and I am dying and I am alone and I am numb.
I am tired. I push at the hard-yet-soft thing and now I am tired and it does not move. There is nothing else to learn from the box. I turn to myself. My hands run over my body. I am wearing a shirt and pants and shoes. I do not know why it is important that I am wearing shoes.
There is something in my pocket. It is dark and I am trapped and I am dying but there is something in my pocket. I pull it out. It is a knife. I do not know why I have a knife in my pocket. It is dark and I am trapped and I am in a box and I am dying and I am alone and I am numb but I have a knife. I stab at the hard-yet-soft thing above me. I cut at the soft silk-satin and through the soft until I come to the hard. It is wood. I am in a wood box and I am dying.
I continue to dig and stab and cut and slice at the wood and I break through. There is something on the other side of the wood. It is dirt. I am in a box and there is dirt over me. I take a part of my shirt and tie it around my nose and mouth. I do not know why but it is important that I do not breathe in the dirt falling on me.
I take my knife and dig at my little hole. I widen the hole until my head and shoulders would fit. The dirt is tightly packed but I dig and it falls. The dirt falls onto my chest and to my sides. I dig and I push. My hand reaches past the dirt. I push at the dirt and it gives. I dig and push and dig and push. I climb and I reach beyond the dirt and it is light and I can see and I am not alone.
There are people. They are my angels pulling me out of the dark box. My angels ask me questions. They ask me who the people, they call them people I call them devils. They ask who the devils are that put me in my hell. I tell them I don’t know. My angels ask what my name is and I do not tell them because it is all I have. They try to take my knife but I do not let them because it is all I have. I look back to my hole. My devils were lazy. It wasn’t even six feet deep. It is light and I am alive. It is light and I am free and I am not alone and I am alive. I am numb.
I am alive but I do not know whether to fight or to let it be. I am numb. It is light and I am alive. I do not know why I am alive.