“Sestina” by KA Webb

Go on and die and see if I’m bothered.
See if I run down to Shit
Creek like some lost pup and dig in the banks
for the gaudy, god-awful ring
you gave me. What made you think I’d wear
it? See if I’m there when you’re buried.

If I could, I’d dig a big hole, bury
all of you I’ve ever known—how you’re bothered
by everything, like how I wear
my shoes till the soles are worn to shit,
how your hearing aid freaks when the phone rings,
and you think your grandkids are banking

on inheritance, just waiting on bank
statements. Truth is, I’ve already buried
you. I didn’t need dirt. I used the rings
from the stump in your yard (I even bothered
to write an elegy full of bullshit)
and layered you between their years of wear.

I worked until I was weary,
and hid you under some embanked
path, someplace all of this nonsense, this shit
didn’t matter. How could you die if you’re buried
already? Or how could your dying bother
me? Will your death be alarming? Will it ring

unexpectedly in the middle of the night, ring
with a clang and clamor so loud I’ll wear
earplugs to sleep? Christ, I’ve never bothered
to ask—did you make an embankment
around yourself of things you could have buried?
Are you afraid? Are you a chicken shit

to forget and admit life ain’t so shitty
after all? I won’t be you. I’ll wring
my neck to keep from forgetting: you buried
my first dog beneath your pecan tree, where
I thought she’d be safe. The creek’s bank
was dry that day as if the water couldn’t be bothered

to rise. Shit, I was six. You were wearing
that ring. You made me stand on the embankment
for the burial. Did you know how I was bothered?

ka-webbKA Webb is the co-founder of the Nitty-Gritty Magic City Reading Series. She holds an MFA from UNC-Wilmington where she led Teens Out Loud, a creating writing initiative for youth born HIV positive. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Arts & Letters, North American Review, and PoemMemoirStory, among others. She lives with her husband, the writer Russell Hehn, their new son and an old dog in Birmingham, Alabama.