Looking for a Metaphor

I came across Telemakhos one day, as he was busy digging a hole in the fields.

“Telemakhos,” I said, “What are you doing?”

“My dog died,” he said. “And my father came home.”

“Sorry about your dog,” I sympathized, because my family had killed all of ours.

He shrugged and lifted another pile over his head. He was about knee-deep into it. “I guess. He left again.”

“Where’d he go?” I asked. Some dirt landed on my shoes.

It struck me that he was digging a grave.

“To bury an oar,” he said. “You know, apologize to the world and all that. But he hasn’t come back.”

I didn’t know what he meant, but my father had left too. I was dead tired. I jumped into the hole and sat down.

He continued, “I don’t understand why father had to apologize to the world, but it’s got me saying sorry too much.

Honestly, I think he buried the oar and left again. If I find it, maybe he’ll have come back.”

“Telemakhos, the world is full of buried oars.”

He said nothing, but in rowing strokes he shoveled the dirt of our shallow, grave boat. The sun sunk below the hull.

“Where will we go?” I asked. I grabbed a fist full of dirt and threw it into the air.

“Where we’ve been going all along,” he sighed. The dirt rained down on us. “After our fathers.”

Todd Dillard is a MFA student in poetry at the Sarah Lawrence College. His poems and reviews have appeared in Pebble Lake Review and Poesis, and he was the recipient of the 2004 Penani Poetry Prize. Currently, Dillard is the Non-fiction Editor of Pebble Lake Review.