dirt scratched her knees
lodged under her nails
tiny pebbles, nearly invisible
or the dust of bones
for all she knew

she clawed at the earth
a small trowel
to keep her company
the longer it took to open
a chasm in this scented
loam, it smelled like spring
onions or maybe tomatoes
the longer he would live
not might live, but would live

this was her plan
to keep him alive in the same
sense as working by the hour
slow it down you’ll earn more
but she must not rest

if she gave up
he would give up
as long as she moved her hands
in this soil where lettuces
and cucumbers and beans
and peas and even strawberries
flourished in the summer

he would stay alive
at least until
the season changed

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18 thoughts on “Dirt

    • that’s actually the gist of the piece.. the way your mind works when someone you love is sick, possibly dying.. you do what you can, maybe it’s mystical, a promise to god, a belief in anything that might make them well.

  1. I was intrigued by the format of the poem, why you cjose to writ it tjis way. For example line break between scented and loam. I think I’m getting it as I write, but it would be interesting to know if I’m right.

  2. Oh yes… you picture the desperation and like a compulsive behaviour … just keep digging or whatever is necessary to keep him alive… like always walking on the middle of the paved stones.. never step on the lines… really well written

  3. I think that Brian captured it exactly, the compulsion to keep busy, to keep in control of what we can when other things are spiraling that we cannot control. You have captured the “necessity” of doing this, not for the other, but for ourselves.

  4. This one hit home. My grandmother was a peasant and worked the land with her hands. When her husband went missing during the war, she kept working his plot of land, in desperation, so that he would find it fertile and well-tended when he returned. He never did. And the land got nationalised.
    Thank you for giving her a voice! I am sure my grandmother would have loved this poem.

  5. I love that she is keeping the garden flourishing like spring or summer ~ To keep him alive, I felt her strong devotion or compulsion to continue ~ I appreciate this story very much ~


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