Then without further violence, green shoots break through ground, and the men arrive as usual with their metal detectors. They’ve come for bullets, war coins, buttons from the chest of either army. We hear their boots pause on the step, wait for a thick finger to press the bell. The hyacinth swells. A patinaed eagle means more than a good day’s digging, and my mother says yes quickly, hand on the knob.
In its gummy web, our porch spider folds in like a travel brush.
My father is away again.
Mostly they come in the day, to wheel-barrow behind alien orbs, cross-hatching the grass. From my window I think they look like showoffs at the shore, walking invisible dogs. They’re unzipping sound to see what’s beneath, probing the soft red mouth of our yard. I want to run out and guard the tulips in their beds, the nests underground no one can see: rabbit, vole, yellow jacket. But they haven’t come for these; anything living is good as dead.
From the other room, my sister laughs at Mork, sleeping on his head.
One of the men stoops, digs, pulls something brown from the ground. Ancient weary worm—no, wrong, a rusted bridle bit still bitter in the hinge, rotten with gunpowder from the jowls of some sad horse. The man runs a tongue along his teeth. Later, he eases quarters into my young palm, silver somewhere on the scale between money and memorial. I never know what to keep, what to spend.
The men turn to go. Trim wasps who’ve been waiting under- ground—tender young drummers—spill out of their cracked shale hive. Spooked by their own massive droning, they flatten to enter the house’s gap, that space between flimsy white siding and hard gray stone sill.