The Taste of Mud

Four years now since I walked here, four years and I had forgotten
things I thought I never would. The city is deceptively calm, and I
find myself glad that below the streets lies a hundred feet of
primordial mud, glad that nothing can stir there, where I have begun
to suspect–I hesitate to admit–something stirs.

I’ve seen upon the shallow shining pool of a friend’s face a
similar vision, like tiny minnows which flash to the surface, leaving
me uncertain if I have seen a glimmer finally, of a person, or just
ripples disturbed by the constant wind. In that way, she is the city,
blown now by this wind or that, its mud uneasily disturbed. Dirt is a
plaything for the children here, their faces ripe with the clayey
mass, the taste of it at the corner of their mouths, the city their
small crowded room.

We live here in a moment sodden with the fear of the inevitable
plunge into murky waters. Every rigid rule, every disagreement
answered shortly, every partial sentence tries to hide the rents in
the city fabric, the river littered with cars and cranes, water mains
torn from the their moorings, cracks in the river ice. Life is managed
here in spite of, by closing the blind eyes of complacency to the
certain horror of our weakness in the face of chaos. Life here is
traced in the filigree of fossils in the limestone. Standing, your
sluggish finger rubbing the bony ridges of some slow animal whose life
is gone, your thumb takes the colour of stone, the wind whirls the
clouds around your head. Your hunger waylaid and every dream of what
could be is a swirl of brown movement, the taste of mud at the corner
of your mouth.

~ Barry Pomeroy

Barry Pomeroy has been an instructor in English literature at a
variety of American colleges and Canadian universities, most recently
the University of Winnipeg. He is responsible for the novel
Naked in
the Road, and his shorter work has been published in magazines such as
Treeline, Cosmetica and Tart.

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