The Smell of Earth

by Emily

hey, lookit! this one’s by me for once.

At the back end of the overgrown pasture-
an oak tree had matured,
nescient to its surroundings.
High in its branches, the girl would roost,
and below, the grass rippled.

Regarding her from the window
above the kitchen sink as she was stationary,
he wondered at her thoughts.

She would return bruised and her feet dirt-scuffed, but her smile
would be broad and comfortable as she’d settle onto the front
porch and nurse the lemonade he brought her.

When the girl sat on the porch swing,
and cocked her head in that certain way she did,
he remembered the woman who had sat there afore
and how she had cocked her head
in that same certain way.

The summer before the woman was gone,
he and the woman packed up the girl and a basket and a blanket
and drove

until the dust billowing behind their car started to disappear and the ground beneath their car was carpeted with laced and decaying leaves, and the soft fields around them faded into black-grey forest and the trees enveloped the light from the sun until it only shattered through in passing moments.

The girl’s toes hung off the edge of the porch swing, they were bare
and she wiggled them gently.

Once they had driven a ways through the surrounding woods, he pulled the car off the matted road, and putting the keys in his pocket, they all began walking–

up ahead, there was a pond.

The water was glinting from the sun in a way that was sharp against their eyes and
they had to squint, noses wrinkling, but the dank earth below their feet was soft and musky,
releasing smells that made him think of sleepless, sweaty nights and her,
and her of his hands on her back during those sleepless, sweaty nights, and the girl was only
thinking of the dirt between her toes and the birds chirping above her.

As the swing swayed back and forth, she rested, content to feel the dirt on her toes,
and he sat next to her,

remembering the smell of earth.