Out back you were nothing but a dark corner of yard beneath a 90-degree angle of stiff bush. Behind the bush was a chain link fence separating our plot from the neighbors' whom I never knew.
You were dark moist cool-to-the-touch packed earth, a dip of ground. Inside the mouth of you were bricks thrown in like teeth, orthodontia Dad had given you.
I remember, more than once, standing inside the old house at the kitchen window, watching the dog dig into your packed hole. The bricks were to keep her in so she couldn't dig deep enough to crawl under chain link.
The dog's nails, ground to the quick for her digging, for her digging, more than once, more than five times, a dozen, a double-dozen, her digging against your teeth ground her nails to the quick, tiny blood marks dotting peach-colored living room pile, points on a map that led nowhere.
Both my sisters lived under ground in that house. Each had carpeted stairs that led to basement windows that had plastic bubble covering. Both put framed pictures and piled-up clothes on their stairs, obstructions that, in the event of fire, could keep them from escaping. Or so I worried.
It's been 26 years now since I stood in the house looking in your direction, longing to be as brave as the dog that has long since died. And yet there are holes like you everywhere in my life, still. Steel wool in crevices, t-shirts in cracks, wood puddings to patch slats.
Last night I ate dinner with a new friend. I told her I'd been living in my apartment for eight years now. I called myself a gorilla in a cage. I meant that somehow over time I've felt my own species leave me. Still I live inside walls, escape hatches plugged with my own psychic obstruction.