My father cinched the rope,
a noose around my waist,
and lowered me into
the darkness. I could taste

my fear. It tasted first
of dark, then earth, then rot.
I swung and struck my head
and at that moment got

another then: then blood,
which spiked my mouth with iron.
Hand over hand, my father
dropped me from then to then:

then water. Then wet fur,
which I hugged to my chest.
I shouted. Daddy hauled
the wet rope. I gagged, and pressed

my neighbor's missing dog
against me. I held its death
and rose up to my father.
Then light. Then hands. Then breath.

—Andrew Hudgins

Rights & Access

First published in The Southern Review, 2001
Volume 37, Number 2, Spring 2001

Copyright 2001 by Andrew Hudgins.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of The Southern Review. Copyright 2001 by Andrew Hudgins. 

  • Andrew Hudgins

    Andrew Hudgins (1951- ) is the author of Saints and Strangers (1986), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His third collection, The Never-Ending (1991), was a finalist for the National Book Award.