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On Pits and Filth and Spades

by Ariane Scott

We feared the spread of disease.
Like border sentries we held great signs
and scoured baggage for foreign soil,
pointed fingers, censored questions,
dared to sneer at answers half concealed

What could be found that was unspoiled
when all along we wanted filth?--
if it had been beautiful we never would have seen

Holes are only pits.
Dig with fancy tools and righteous spades,
no mound of dirt will counteract the voids
we hoed and speared with hands like claws,
stiff like prayer, x-ing with our fingers
at the earth we dared not plunge inside
for dread of what we’d find

And that is when we’re numb;
just imagine what we look like
when we cry and when we feel,
when I feel I want to smear my skin with earth,
with your earth, with your smut
until I know what makes you real.


Author's Note: 2005

Posted on 06/04/2012
Copyright © 2021 Ariane Scott

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by George Hoerner on 06/04/12 at 04:46 PM

We wash our hands every time; we shower twice or thrice a day; it must be for cleanliness. Or is it to wash away our sins of commission and omission?

Posted by LK Barrett on 06/04/12 at 07:57 PM

...we seldom learn not to test the things we need the most—faith, honor, love. A great and good lesson here, thank you. lk

Posted by Gabriel Ricard on 06/04/12 at 11:13 PM

It's interesting to read through this, and then get to those last couple of lines. It's such a brilliant, stark contrast to the rest of the piece, that it made me go back and read through this again. When you tie everything together, it's a fantastic piece of writing.

Posted by Laura Doom on 06/05/12 at 09:40 AM

How do you make smut so alluring, even in adversity? Spread the disease, verseMother...

Posted by Magnolia Moonpie on 07/12/12 at 12:34 AM

This seems to describe the conflicted appeal and difficulty with taboo.

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 11/25/12 at 03:42 AM

Much of my life relates to digging and spreading and planting and observing growth and death and seeds going every which way. This is a different use of spade and feeling the smear of us. I like it very much.

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