Mud Pies

by Catherine Marenghi

I mined riches from the earth: clumps of green 
mosses, plush as tufted velvet, laid in sheets 
and cut to perfect circles with an overturned 
flowerpot, edges trimmed with Queen Anne’s lace,
studded with the regal purple jewels of elderberry,
beaded trim of wild grapes with pearly frost, 
topped with white down pulled from milkweed 
pods, fine as any ermine.

My father watched and disapproved, didn’t want me 
to have dirt beneath my fingernails, as he and all 
who came before him did. He made me scrub the black 
crescent moons that crowned my fingertips. 

He died thinking he had failed me. Never bought 
the twinkling plastic toys or patent-leather shoes
he thought I wanted. Never knew how much I loved
my denim overalls, my canvas sneakers caked in mud.

I didn’t know it then. The grownup world is split in two:
Those who work the soil, and those who own it.
The soft earth tried to break the news to me gently.

photo credit: Chris Yang, Unsplash