Shallow Grave

“Where’s Dad?” I asked.  “He is in the back yard,” Mom said.  I went out to the backyard and I didn’t see my father.  Then I saw him, digging a hole in the backyard.  He was inside the hole and I almost didn’t see him.  What the hell is he doing?  Is he digging his own grave?  The hole was not quite six foot deep yet.  I could hear the shovel hitting earth.

I went back to the house and asked my mom what he was doing.  “Your father hates horsetail. They drive him crazy. He’s been digging out their underground stalks.  They are stubborn weeds, difficult to get rid of.  You need to dig out the entire roots and stalks, you know.”

I know.  Hell weed, it’s called by farmers.  They send down rhizomes deep down and in all directions underground.  You keep on pulling the little green shoots above ground and they will come back in no time.  Unless you get rid of its entire subterranean system, eventually your vegetable garden will be covered with field horsetails.  If you leave even one small piece of rhizome, it will come back with vengeance.

My father threw down the gauntlet against horsetails and kept digging out rhizomes, deeper and deeper, until he found himself at the bottom of a pit.

What do I do?  Sometimes, deep psychology work feels like a battle against Hell Weed.

Last year I found myself digging a hole in the same backyard. It was to help my mom to compost food scraps.   My father does not live here anymore.  Digging a hole was a way to be by myself for a couple of hours without being entangled in the emotional spider web of my family.

I don’t dig deep anymore.  I’ve learned to live with things I’ve found subterranean and aboveground.  So long as I know they are there, it’s O.K.



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