I spent my twenty-sixth birthday shoveling dog shit from my parents’ yard. As I scooped feces my ass spit blood into the wad of gauze a doctor tamped down deep. Two days earlier they put me under then snipped out pieces. The clit growing from my rectum now neutered.

This was spring. Winter in the midst of melting away. Of ceding its awful power. Soon patches of green sprouted from snow. Then the frozen shit came uncovered. Filled sun cups. Dotted swaths of lawn. In time each piece absorbed sun and slush ’til it turned to slurry.

Each liquid elimination oozed from shovel to bucket. I wiped the tool in snow then scooped again. What a way to spend a birthday. Twenty-six. I still felt weak and woozy from going under. From pills. From the bubbling creek of blood trickling out my ass. I wondered if or when it’d ever stop.

The pale grew heavy with shit. No nutrient muck that slopped as I walked. Its weight made my arm ache as I tramped the yard in rubber boots. Scoop and bleed. Scoop and bleed. I didn’t want to be here but my parents now nursed me. To be out working were orders from headquarters. A dictate that fresh air might find me well.

A dull ache emanated from the depths of my ass. From the spot that needed to heal from surgical incision. That turned tendrils of tub water to a soft and elegant pink. An unwanted piece of me still felt but now missing. One that I asked a girlfriend to take a scissor to. That she stroked and flicked as I fucked her.

Out of curiosity I took to extracting the rust red wad jammed up my ass. To twisting it to my sniffer for a draft of death. Of surgery. Of a man now 26. One naieve to think there’s nowhere to go but up from here. The cynicism to dream of deeper depths still shallow. No way to know that the bottom always has another drain beneath it.

I turned back to my task. To my need to check the rotted plug. Scoop. Bleed. Sniff. Scoop. Bleed. Sniff. As time passed more pieces of melted feces came to focus. Each trip ’round the house not enough. An endless circle that accomplished little but accumulated much. I felt no choice but to empty the bucket then start again. To know there’s perhaps no path but the one you’ve always trudged.