against the glitter of those earth-held ores

Michelle Bailat-Jones


She watches them now as they are spread long-limbed over the dirt, their fingers reaching into the redness and the grit, their elbows and knees always dusty, always rubbed a little raw from their kneeling at play, this serious activity of theirs, eyes grave and directions passed between them in sensible whispers, never shouted because her children do not raise their voices.

And still today she checks the urge to lean into their studious faces and roar, to let out this great cry that is pitted inside of her, that she has been burying all these years, digging it deeper with each held breath and unspoken word, with each closing of her eyes against the glitter of those earth-held ores, and the children have sensed her presence at the edge of their game but they will not turn to her, will not speak either because this is an always-game, a silence that means I am listening, I hear you.

Instead they pick up their sticks and scratch at the surface of the soil, clawing with their fingers too, with nails that will never be really clean, and certain they will go deep enough into the rocks and the dirt this time, certain that if they can just sit here long enough with their tools and their quiet focus.

If they can work hard under the steady gaze of their mother, they will uncover the treasure that is whispered about throughout their lives, these minerals in the ground, these fuels and particles and energy buried where only the strongest of the men can go looking.

And children know so very much about energy, and so they hunch their backs in this dusty untidy garden, they throw their sticks away for shovels and they keep at it, turning over the rocks, moving the soil, thrusting their feet into the holes they dig, feeling the coolness of the uncovered earth and knowing it will only get colder the deeper they go.

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Michelle Bailat-Jones is excited about her most recently published project, Unfurled: a book about the daughter of a ferry pilot, about sailing, about the ocean and deep waters. You can find out more about the book and Michelle’s other projects on her website and on Twitter.

FlashJeremy Bibaud