Friday, November 06, 2009


I come from the earth and to the earth I will return. It’s no wonder that I should chase after the horned God of the underworld. I remember springing from the dirt. I come from the land and the land comes from me. I never was, I never will be. And still the grass grows and the worms crawl beneath it’s yellow coat and the earwigs creep into the cracks of the houses that men built. The black widow hides in the cedar. Death resting quietly in the shade, spinning her scattered incoherent web.
My father showing me the creatures of the earth, holding the black widow in his vice grips, calling me to come and look. Frightened, I hover at a distance. He assures me that it’s safe, come closer look at death so that you will know her when you meet her. He shows me her belly with its red hour glass. This is how you will recognize her. Stay away from her, don’t touch her, don’t play with her, and be careful in the dark places, she is there.
Another time he calls me and, when I come, he is holding a brilliant green snake in his hands. Again he tells me to come closer. This time he shows me the beautiful snake glittering in the sun like a length of new garden hose and tells me it won’t hurt me. This is a good snake, it helps the trees to grow. It kills the gophers that nibble their roots. It may bite you if you frighten it, but no great harm will come of that. It is a beautiful snake and I feel happy looking at it in my father’s hands and happier still when he sets it gently down. I laugh excitedly, watching it slither away, disappearing in the green of the grass as though it had never been there.
I come from the earth. I’ve carried it under my fingernails and in my hair. I’ve felt it under my bare feet. Its thorns have buried themselves in my flesh, its barrel thorns and fox burs have embedded themselves in my clothing. I’ve crawled around in its strong wooden arms and plucked its fruits and danced naked over its grassy back. I climbed to the tops of the trees and balanced above the deep dusty green canopy and drank in the sight that surrounded me; blue sky, yellow sun, dull golden grass like a head of blonde hair, the old broken fence of a brown so dark it is nearly black, sloping and falling, letting its planks return to the earth in broken rotted bits, the white house with the red tile roof, tall and proud and frightening and sad and hopeful, the mountains dark and round, mysterious and menacing and inviting.
I knew as I looked around me that I must remember the sight, that it was an important moment to be so high and see it all. I knew it was more beautiful than anything I was ever likely to see again. I knew it, but was at loss as to what should be done with such knowledge. I tried to hold it inside of me, but could feel it slipping even as I grasped at it, like sand through my fingertips, thoughts of school and playmates and my parents in the shape of words formed inside of my mind, washing the sight from my eyes even as I beheld it and, eventually, I climbed back down into the dark shade and silver branches below.
I nursed a black goat with a white star on her forehead from a glass bottle and a smelly rubber nipple and called her baby and watched her grow, the little nubs of her horns slowly working their way up just as the teeth in my own mouth would do from time to time. The goat disliked the smell of the awful rubber nipple and refused to take nourishment until my grandmother took her into her soft wrinkled hands and doused the nipple in milk and insisted, her old steely blue eyes shining mischievously. Then the kid drank and wagged its black nub of a tail and flicked its delicate furred ears.
I remember earth. Even here, sitting in my plaster box over the concrete and asphalt that reaches as far as I can see, I remember the untamed earth. The dirt and insects and serpents and death and horns which push to the surface where once there was nothing. One day I will return to it. I will be home. I sprang from the earth and to the earth I shall return.

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