Neither remembers whose thought it had been

or what drove them, armed with a gnarly branch

and my flower garden hand tools (Shepherd-mix

dog, their only witness), to dig a hole to Hell.


After a long dry spell, white patches from a decades-

old salt pit had surfaced on the bare spots. Had they

been caught red-handed, they might have been

warned how shallow the dirt was above the clay.


Surreptitiously they kneeled between the rusty

swing set, the woodshed, and the dog house,

gouging Satan’s roof  until they saw red—

clear evidence Hell couldn’t be that far below.


Hearts racing, they shoved it all back, faster

Than you could name the seven deadly sins,

deciding Hell was closer than they’d realized—

and waited nearly twenty years to tell their mother.

-Mary E. Kocher