Was it out of cruelty that she started digging the grave years before his death? Was it out of love that she dug escape routes in the dirt, complex as nerve endings? What is out of jealously that she dug so deeply no one would be able to trip over an arm or a kneecap?
Was it rude for her to use his shovels, the set with the wooden handles, the ones that used to give him splinters?
All these questions won't do any good. The doctor approaches the door frame, as though he recognizes the privilege of his stethoscope, his otoscope, his ophthalmoscope, and his petella hammer. The room seems empty, even as her chest rises and falls like petals pushing up and down in an ejaculating gust. Her breathing is heavy, but soft. Her ribcage is heavy, but soft. He remembers what it looks like inside. He remembers tapping her bones and jumping away from them. He remembers when she first arrived with the yellow blouse wrapped around her neck. He remembers the curve in her spine and the sweat between her knuckles. He remembers pushing the hair off her face, wrapping a strand around his finger until it snapped. He remembers how it smelled like Spring in the room and how he went home and it smelled like Spring inside the house. He remembers this room, as it was, as it is. One picture, framed in a cheap bronze, hangs as though there is no wall.
He walks around the bed and stops at her shoulder. He lifts her arm and wraps the plastic band around it, letting the wrist fall to her side, facing the sky. He puts the stethoscope under the band and counts each beat. In her head she is thinking about the dark planets and the all the fields that give them light. She is rubbing the planets between her thumb and forefinger, squeezing the light out of them like glue. He shines the ophthalmoscope into all the eye parts, the irises shriveling, collapsing in the sun. Through a microscope he can see her optic nerves shiver. He puts the blanket over her face, and sits down next to the bed.
He takes the petella hammer from his superbly white coat pocket and swings it back and forth like a lever, like it would shift all the molecules in the air so that it wouldn't be so cold and it wouldn't be so warm. He takes the orange triangle and taps his kneecaps so that his shins jerk up like a balloon does just before the pin is removed and it pops. He grips the petella hammer back and puts it back into his coat pocket still gripping. When he lets go, the balloons pop. His kneecaps collapse into his knees. He says to her, "You can tell they are coming when you stop noticing the shadows." The fields are empty, and her breathing is soft and heavy.
Was it rude for her to use his shovels, the ones she stole from his eyes and wrote down on paper? Did she do this out of love, or jealousy, or cruelty?
He faces her. He remembers the yellow blouse. He remembers what was covering her neck. He remembers what she said about the snow, that she could no longer see him. Am I drowning in this snow?
And so there she is, propped up with three pillows, one just behind the neck, one against the small of her back, and one underneath her head. She is superbly white, the blanket draped over the crown of her head, each thread hanging like a crystal of a chandelier. And so there he is, watching her sparkle through the spaces in the cotton. He looks at her through these holes, as if this is a new technique--the last resort--to catch something in the act. He spends a few minutes looking, then thinking, then he goes back to looking. After the minutes pass and he checks his pocket, he finds a five dollar bill and the hammer. He removes the blanket from the crown of her head, unwraps the plastic band from her arm, and places her wrist so it is no longer reaching at the sky.
The planets inflate like hearts in her fists. The planets are dark like the bottom of the ocean where you can never turn back. She runs through the fields and as she runs they disappear behind her. It's no longer warm. She puts on her white socks. There's snow on her feet. The snow has no shadow.