Rooted and Rotted

By Eleanor Keith


Brambles break through my matted hair. 

        My fingers are dug into the dark, soft earth, like carrots rooting in soil. They’re buried here, as much as I am buried in this warm, subterranean pocket. 

        Rigid and rusted, my spine is held securely against vibrant mossy stones, as I watch sleepy dust wander through the air. Dust–ever searching for a one object in which to gather and settle, letting shadows of life slither from the untouched.

        My body, full of stiff, cemented bones, decays in this lively world of living, entwined with the laughing greens and the snarling violets. Poison among weeds.

        Reasonable society is a structure in which speakers have nurtured an idea and a law and a punishment. It is privilege to be escaped from a society, rather, silent and unmoving, unequal, permitting the vines a shortcut route around my neck. It’s only a noose if you think it so.

        Time here is spent in a single moment, a one forever memory. Days are cogs turning in on each other, pushing along the technical moments of dust and flowers and death. How could my life be measured if I never leave? Long ago, I kept a tally of minutes, measured by the centimeters of skin that sloughed from my arms and legs, slowly revealing the fragile white, now yellowed. 

        But time must be passing, I realize, for a heart still pushes against the dim outline of my ribcage. Even with all my blood dried brown, a heart still beats away, ticking away the seconds of my botanical-bound eternity. Is this why I am still held here? A sound conscience tethered to this terrible world of beauty…

        Vines snap. My sharp breath sends dust fleeing. The heart speeds in its struggle for safety; it knows what comes next.

        Cement bones come crumbling from their long-stood cast of hesitation. My hands are pulled from the wet earth, rotted.

        My fingers tease the edge of my ribcage, dancing along the rough surface, before slipping through the entrance to my vulnerable chasm.

        It’s a familiar action, an easy effort. Earth or flesh, rooted or rotted, my shriveled fingers burrow.

        I’m free.