the secret of soil


The Secret of Soil
Aimee Nezhukumatathil

The secret of smoke is that it will fill
any space with walls, no matter
how delicate: lung cell, soapy bubble
blown from a bright red ring.

The secret of soil is that it is alive-
a step in the forest means
you are carried on the back
of a thousand bugs. The secret

I give you is on page forty-two
of my old encyclopedia set.
I cut out all the pictures of minerals
and gemstones. I could not take

their beauty, could not swallow
that such stones lived deep inside
the earth. I wanted to tape them
to my hands and wrists, I held

them to my thin brown neck.
I wanted my mouth to fill
with light, a rush of rind
and pepper. I can still taste it

like a dare across a railroad track,
sure with solid-feet steps. I’m not
allowed to be alone with scissors.
I always find a way to dig.

Photo by Pascal Meier on Unsplash