A poem by Christine Knight
It starts with my fingers in the earth, mud and blood and farmyard shit
and the tangled matted webbing of last year’s roots that I shake and scrub
to rid them of dirt, and as the worms slither round my fingers I dip my face
to them, suck them in like spaghetti, taste the dark crumbled soil
in the corners of my mouth like grated truffle.
Why bother with cultivation?—the frill-necked lettuce, the flapping pink sweet peas
with their boudoir scent like an old lady’s soap drawer. Just skip the preening;
get your face in the dirt; cram your mouth and swallow with so much greed
you choke yourself, a lump in your gullet like Saint-Exupéry’s snake.
It’ll nourish you like flesh; you’ll be digesting for years.
Dr Christine Knight is a poet and fiction writer based in the UK Peak District. Her poetry has been published in The North and the Hope Valley Journal, as well as Tears in the Fence. Following an academic career at the University of Edinburgh (2008–17) in the sociology of food, she now works freelance as a writer, researcher, and editor. “Eat Dirt” is also published in Tears in the Fence issue no. 77.
Title image: Leora Gesser – Stratiography 2, 2017; watercolour, conte, acrylic ink, pastel, and lichen on paper 28 x 40 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.