Buried – by Kerry Trautman

The raccoon in the online video buried to his armpits
knows there are worms there, and they know to dig

themselves out. Soil constricts his chest,
numbing from diaphragm down. As a child, a friend

brought me to her country club pool—water so deep it
lapped my lips over and over, my chin lifted

high as I knew how in blue panic, as if trying to drown
what didn’t belong. If only the raccoon

could wet his palms, he might know better what
the soil means to do, why it has enveloped

him. He sees a bird pecking grass and smells
a toad buried shallow. He remembers the Taco Bell

wrapper he found wrapped around the seat
of the park bench, the crusted nacho cheese he

nibbled off. He wishes he’d savored it. When I sense
rip currents coming for me, I search for scent

of land beyond. I wish I learned to savor all the water
that’s ever lapped my lips. If only he knew how to claw

his way down along his own body. If only his feet could
push, propel him like launched from a cannon then

parabola back down to grass. If only rumbling
footsteps would approach to grasp his hands, pluck him

like a beetroot. We don’t have to butterfly,
as long as we can tread water. When muscles tire

and lungs sputter, we reach for hands.
We can nourish ourselves from what resurfaces.

Kerry TrautmanKerry Trautman’s work has appeared in various anthologies and journals. Her books are Things That Come in Boxes (King Craft Press 2012,) To Have Hopes (Finishing Line Press 2015,) Artifacts (NightBallet Press 2017,) To Be Nonchalantly Alive (Kelsay Books 2020,) Marilyn: Self-Portrait, Oil on Canvas (Gutter Snob Books 2022,) Unknowable Things (Roadside Press 2023,) and Irregulars (Stanchion Books, forthcoming 2023.)