My gratitude is grave-deep today. And not a shallow one either.
It’s at least six feet down.
Trod down beneath the yammer of the world, beneath the complaints of grown men blubbering like toddlers, beneath the fears that turn brawny chests into infantile mush, beneath the iron-nailed heels of boots.
Down. Down. Down past the fertile loam. Down past the worms and their intimately ingested dead. Down where the earth is packed tight – unmovably tight – around the memories of lost generations.
It lies there with eyes closed, asleep against its earthen night, lips caked and muted by the pressing ground.
And I am here, grieving the loss. I should be on my knees, digging until the fingernails rip from their flesh, wiping the sweat from my brow with stiff fingers, leaving streaks of blood and dirt where the sweat drips across my forehead.
I am still. And the world tears by, singing like a body-hungry banshee or a flesh-craving whip. Singing, stinging, lashing, dancing in blood.
And then, an imperceptible shift. Maybe it’s the tilt of the sun over the course of a minute. Or the pawing of a field mouse a mile away, enlivening the secrets of the wind. Or a memory breathing life into this odd and somehow familiar wilderness with its grass-smells and sphagnum-smells and old-leaf-smells. Smells of my past.
The earth cools my hands, leaves wet patches on my knees.
I feel my roots stretching out beneath me, moving through the dark past like branches move through the air. Effortless, without the ache of growing pains, as if the toes and fine hairs of these roots – my past – have been there all along, fed by earth, nurtured by the fertility of its own darker, deeper past, feeding me, so that I can stretch my arms to the sky, fingers with the ease of leaves in the sun.
From the earth and to the earth.
From life and toward life.
Here I can linger. And all shall be well. And all shall be well.
from the collection of: d. heidel