Live Wire

(after Bernard Cooper)

The copper wire inside the rubber hose carries a faint pulse, but my handyman and I can’t isolate the fuse to turn off the electricity so we tape the loose ends, stuff it in a plastic bag, shove the bag in the hole, cover it with rocks, bury it with earth and then build the new cement post on top as if it’s a grave marker.

My father had buried the hose with the wire decades before, threading it from the cottage to the two cement posts at the entrance where he planned to install lights but never did. He built these posts to last, reinforcing the concrete with iron rods. Recently, when someone backed into one of the posts, cracking it open beyond repair, Len and I found life in the wire.

The wire that passes from the cottage to the guest house is buried in an iron pipe rather than a rubber hose. My brother struck it when he was digging a hole for my mother’s cremains in the garden. I don’t know if the impact of steel against iron caused a spark.

The urns for my parents are biodegradable, and the brochure says they will break down and release flower seeds. Ten years now and still no sign. My brother may have dug the hole too deep, leaving the seeds too far away to push through the surface. Maybe it was all a big lie. Or maybe, below ground, there is life we cannot see.

Mark Foss is the author of two novels and a collection of short stories. His words have also appeared in Star 82 Review, Hobart, and elsewhere. In 2021, he co-edited The Book of Judith (New Village Press, forthcoming), an homage to the life of poet, writer, and teaching artist Judith Tannenbaum and her impact on incarcerated and marginalized students. He writes from Montreal, but you can visit at www.markfoss.ca.

You can see more of his work in 10.2

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