The Good Earth

Me, running a roto-tiller on the corn patch.

It’s really good exercise, running the gnarly little machine. It helps to clear the mind. I spent several hours turning husks and leftovers into good dirt. The rhythm of working the soil, the sun and fresh air. The smell of the earth, the crumbly loam.

Amazing good stuff.

The promise of a fresh crop and a good garden, this dark soil. I’ve been working these patches for years with various manure and inputs, the quality goes up with each passing season.

Finally, the job, like all jobs, ended. I looked over my little patches and sighed.

This is the farm that I bought. My refuge. My island, divorced from the madness.

I couldn’t help but to think of the distant war as I looked over my fresh upturned black gardens. They say the Ukraine has some of the world’s best soil. I don’t see any reason to doubt that. Right now, the soil is taking back its children in large batches.

This is what the earth does, long accustomed to the fights of its children.

The earth, the soil, it must be fed.

A vision.

I see a line of skirmishers advancing through a field. Poorly trained and hastily equipped. Do they scream as they run, or are they silent? Grim? A machine gun, manned by people who don’t care to die, tracks the runners. A sergeant taps the gunner when the range is right, the gunner squeezes the trigger. The firefight sings. It shrieks. It stutters and roars. Who wins? Does it matter?

A young fighter spins toward the earth, holed and leaking. The copper and lead have done their job, the wounds are fatal. The blood and fluids soak into the rich black soil, and the process begins anew.

The contested field usually grows cabbages or sunflowers. This year it will grow weeds.

Back in the present, I wipe sweat from my brow.

May my soil never know the sacrifice of old. May it be fed chicken shit and compost, and not the sunset of youth.

This is my wish.

But the earth, it must be fed.

My wishes mean nothing.

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