DIRT By Patricia Vestal
The path the young woman took unwound like a strand of ribbon that had simply been dropped from the sky and lay in twists and turns as it had descended between trees and underbrush. How many feet had trod this path before her, crushing nascent life underfoot, keeping it bare? She walked purposefully. One foot set in front of the other. Deliberate heel on ground followed by toe descending. Whole foot resting on dark, loamy dirt, pungent with myriad life forms reproducing, dying, rotting. releasing that pungent odor of dirt, melting leaves, decomposing insects.
She planted her two feet in the dirt and squatted. Her hand reached out and the index finger scooped up a sliver of dirt. The finger went into the open mouth, onto the awaiting tongue. Just a dash. It tasted like dirt. A fountain of delightful memories erupted of a time when each day bore no boundaries between self and earth and spirit, now and forever. Her butt heaved downward and plopped into the dirt, feet splaying out in front, the backs of her bare legs resting in the warm earth. Her hand scooped up a gob of dirt and spread it on her pale, freckled face. Strands of strawberry blond hair etched golden furrows in the dark mask.
The forest was a symphony of sound. A mockingbird’s brassy fuss; a woodpecker’s rhythmic rap. Insects buzzed like wild strings. High above her, tree boughs sang to the invisible wind.
The hazel eyes saw all and more. Forest with no horizon. Blue eyes of sky peeking through the green canopy. Dapples of sunlight illuminating shafts of flora as great swathes retreated, hooded in deep shadow. The eyes crinkled. The mouth opened wide and new sounds rent the air. First a bubbly giggle, then a rumble of deep laughter rent the silence of the forest.
The young woman lay down in the soil and rolled. Her white dress was now as dappled as the forest with splotches of the blackest dirt and the greenest moss. The white shoes had long since lost their luster. The pale skin of legs and arms was obscured. She was One with the Earth. She was her Self. She rolled and sang with glee. Her body gradually sank into its welcoming blanket. The thrashing slowed. The eyes closed. She was One with the Earth. She was One with All. No trace of her was visible on the path.