I knew what childhood smelled like.
It smelled like wet, freshly turned soil,
like the minerals, once concealed,
drawn from the earth—
a billion shards of the fossilized dead.
Childhood was the smell of soft mud
that looked and felt like chocolate syrup,
whipped and stirred with just the right
amount of water. It was course mud
that could be packed and molded,
rolled into a ball and chucked.
And that whiff of the dark
earth's dampness, nature's pollutant,
stagnant in the humid summer air—
that belonged to my childhood.
It was not just the smell of the earth,
it was the earth unturned,
shifting onto its back, revealing
the smothered underbelly of all things
decomposed and brought
into the open again.