A Taste of Dirt
I tasted dirt once when I was a child,
a curious child who tasted things
and pine and grass and cold wind on winter nights.
I chomped a bit of batter from a spoon,
and scraped the fudge pot clean,
and once, when I quite forgot myself,
I almost tasted greens.
I stole some apples from a neighbor’s tree
sour and green like persimmons,
things tasted better when gained illicitly.
I churned a bit of butter in my turn,
and ate the shelly beans
with corn, and tomatoes splitting skins
gorged by summer rains.
I tasted a girl in a youthful theft,
a swarthy lad who took the kiss
to keep me warm on warrior nights far from home.
I gained a bit of standing from my tastes
the older I became
for wines and exotics and places,
and people of fame.
I tasted me in a cut on my lips,
a curious taste of rusty fudge
crusting in palpable bits. As if I could judge
Why I’m grinding flecks of time between my teeth,
Why so long the dearth
since the pine and rain and grass and greens,
since I tasted dirt.
--Adapted from A Taste of Dirt,
first published in the Nomad, Spring 1980
Western Carolina University,Cullowhee, NC
Copyright 1980. Revision Copyright 2009