I find myself wandering in the farmer’s fields that make their stand on this suburban border, reminders to all that these lands used to be—are—something else, not just platforms for roads and houses, houses and roads, but instead places where things grow, where wild things still roam, bathed in shadow and light.
I sink a little more with each step until I am submerged in the earth, in the soil, my lungs seamlessly transformed to tease the air out of pockets in this underground sea. I am swimming fearlessly, floating, eavesdropping on the songs of roots as they tell stories of what is aboveground, rumors from branches, to the amazement of the stones below.
I am held by the earth, by the dirt, lulled to sleep by the quiet dancing of earthworms, adjacent to the heartbeat of the planet, quiet throbbing from the earth’s center ever outward. You can hear it—you can—when you listen just right, and me, I listen just right.
This world is dark and lush, mysterious, full of magical beings rarely seen by those who roam above. Fungi whisper as I go by, roots mutter at my intrusion. In this place, I am other. I do not know the language and languages there are, strident, quiet, connected. I am a stranger, burrowing through this sea of life, where roots reach down to meet water, rock holds dirt, ants hold meetings to plan their next project.
This is a rare gift, this visit, a glimpse of a place seldom seen, rarely considered, so busy our abovegrounder minds are with thoughts that roam in time, not place. This is place, this is home, the very substrate of our survival, the elements from which we are made, from which tendrils of the plants we eat are pushed, yet it does not pique our curiosity. Dirt, dust, something to be moved, dug, swept, when it rightly should be cherished, loved, admired, revered. Ancestor and essence, this dirt, these bugs, the worms, the water.
Pushed back toward the surface by those who live here, their message—“Enough, enough, you have seen enough for now”—I hesitate. Must I leave the magic here to return to the crust of things? Must I live on the surface rather than in it, up to my knees, neck, in what we actually are, the stuff that made us?
Moving ever upwards, it seems that the choice is not for me to make. This fleeting look will have to do, an uncommon reminder that we are not on the planet, we are of her.
I break through the soil like the first leaf that bursts forth from a seed, light filling every part of me, air rushing in, sky so vast, as I return, again.
To my walk.