I’ve been deep in thought about many things of late. Not particularly unusual for me, that habit of navel gazing even when fully clothed in the minutia of life. The sun is making its rays felt here a bit more these days and that has me thinking about things flora, of the persistence of life pushing its way up through the dirt and lifting its face to the sun. Spring brings new life and the chance for my compost bin to heat up.
Stirring the Compost
The lid lifts and the smell of dirt greets me. Not dirt like in a farmer’s
South forty or what’s squashed into plastic bags down at the store,
But dirt made by my hands, gardening tools, and family’s menu.
Banana peels, avocado and cantaloupe rinds, potato peels
And grass clippings. Dead-headed roses and lemons and limes
All tossed into the great big black bin ready to be stirred
Into something new.
The worms and bugs creep and crawl, animating the zucchini
That stayed so long in the drawer it was no longer crisp.
Once a mouse had crawled in the bin, perhaps I’d been careless?
When I lifted the lid he looked at me, a pumpkin seed held in his hands,
As if to give thanks or perhaps ask for seconds. Or perhaps in fear that the hand
Tossing in more life-giving food would also end his days in
The compost bin.
When I hear folks say “You’ll get your reward in heaven,” I laugh.
Not a guffaw or chuckle, but quietly in my own head. Because to me,
They are saying, “Put up with the cast-offs and rinds now and hope
For filet mignon and caviar later.” How is this different than making
Someone sit in the back of the bus? Drink from a certain fountain, or
Accept wages too small to do more than exist? As if all the injustice today
Is worth the promise of justice tomorrow.
I say we are all bits and pieces of life, waiting to return to dirt.
I fill my wheelbarrow with last fall’s dirt. Kneeling in what will be my
Flower bed, I work in the rich, black dirt. It sticks to my fingers, clumps
Wet with water and something else.
A shard of an egg shell catches my eye. Once it sheltered the potential for
Life and it does again as I settle a single flower bulb upon it. With water and food,
There will be magic. That shell will push its way towards the warmth of the sun;
Dressed this time in beautiful red petals and green leaves.