Soil

  • Believe

    Shadow was in a dark place, and the thing staring at him wore a buffalo’s head, rank and furry with huge wet eyes. Its body was a man’s body, oiled and slick.

    “Changes are coming,” said the buffalo without moving its lips. “There are certain decisions that will have to be made.”

     Firelight flickered from wet cave walls.

    “Where am I?” Shadow asked.

    “In the earth and under the earth,” said the buffalo man. “You are where the forgotten wait.” His eyes were liquid black marbles, and his voice was a rumble from beneath the world. He smelled like wet cow. “Believe,” said the rumbling voice. “If you are to survive, you must believe.”

    “Believe what?” asked Shadow. “What should I believe?”

    He stared at Shadow, the buffalo man, and he drew himself up huge, and his eyes filled with fire. He opened his spit-flecked buffalo mouth and it was red inside with the flames that burned inside him, under the earth.

    “Everything,” roared the buffalo man.

     

    A scent of compression and release, of heat and faith, of plunging through the jet-shadowed darkness of uncertainty. The heart of the land: roots plunging ever deeper into thrumming black soil through the graves of faith, disillusion, and skepticism.

     

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  • Doozers

    Totally unlike the Fraggles, Doozers spend their lives working. The greatest joy in a Doozer’s life is to get up, put on a hard hat and take a place on the Doozer work crew.

    The scent of industrious cooperation: glittering crystals, soft soil, and radish dust.

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  • Druid

    A woolen robe infused with the scent of a vast, primordial forest: ancient trees, fertile soil, wild herbs, spring grasses, and burgundy pitch incense.

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  • God’s Own Country

    “Yes, it’s still God’s Own Country,” said the announcer, a news reporter pronouncing the final tag line. “The only question is, which gods?”

    Circuit boards, cathode rays, and exhaust ramming against frankincense, myrrh, soil, and blood.

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  • Gorg’s Garden

    The Fraggles raid the Gorgs’ garden for the vegetables (particularly the radishes) that they eat.

    Radishes, freshly-turned soil, and soft herbs.

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  • Hagsgate

    “When those words were first spoken,” Drinn said, “Haggard had not been long in the country, and all of it was still soft and blooming – all but the town of Hagsgate. Hagsgate was then as this land has become: a scrabbly, bare place where men put great stones on the roofs of their huts to keep them from blowing away.” He grinned bitterly at the older men. “Crops to harvest, stock to tend! You grew cabbages and rutabagas and a few pale potatoes, and in all of Hagsgate there was but one weary cow. Strangers thought the town accursed, having offended some vindictive witch or other.”

    Molly felt the unicorn go by in the street, then turn and come back, restless as the torches on the walls, that bowed and wriggled. She wanted to run out to her, but instead she asked quietly, “And afterward, when that had come true?”

    Drinn answered, “From that moment, we have known nothing but bounty. Our grim earth has grown so kind that gardensand orchards spring up by themselves – we need neither to plant nor to tend them. Our flocks multiply; our craftsmen become more clever in their sleep; the air we breathe and the water we drink keep us from ever knowing illness. All sorrow parts to go around us – and this has come about while the rest of the realm, once so green, has shriveled to cinders under Haggard’s hand. For fifty years, none but he and we have prospered. It is as though all others had been cursed.”

    An accursed bounty: rich black soil and hay, cucumber, tomato, red lettuce, summer squash, black eggplant, arugula, grape vine, artichoke, and a tangle of herbs marred by an undercurrent of vetiver, patchouli, and black moss.

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  • Holy Trinity

    GOOD FRIEND FOR JESUS SAKE FOREBEAR,
    TO DIGG THE DVST ENCLOSED HERE.
    BLESTE BE YE MAN YT SPARES THESE STONES,
    AND CURSED BE HE YT MOVES MY BONES.

    For years now, whenever Lilith is in a cemetery, she has felt compelled to leave little presents… flowers, beads, toys… graveside, especially at the graves of long-gone children. This moment was captured at the Collegiate Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon, the site of Shakespeare’s baptism and burial.

    Soft riverbank soil, winter daffodils, fog-damp grass, curled pondweed, and frankincense.

  • III. The Lovers

    After she was dead, she began to come to him in the night. He grew pale, and there were deep circles under his eyes. At first, they thought he was mourning her. And then, one night, he was gone.

    It was hard for them to obtain permission to disinter her, but they got it. They hauled up the coffin and unscrewed the lid. Then they prized what they found out of the box. There was six inches of water in the bottom, the iron had colored it a deep, orangish red. There were two bodies in the coffin: hers, of course, and his. He was more decayed than she was.

    Later, someone wondered aloud how both of them had fitted in a coffin built for one. Especially given her condition, he said; for she was very obviously very pregnant.

    This caused some confusion, for she had not been noticeably pregnant when she was buried.

    Still later they dug up her got one last time, at the request of the church authorities, who had heard rumors of what had been found in the grave. Her stomach was flat. The local doctor told them all that it had just been gas and bloating as the stomach swelled, The townsfolk nodded, almost as if they believed him.

    Black Phoenix’s most disquieting scent: baby’s breath and upturned soil.

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  • Lines: The Cold Earth Slept Below

    The cold earth slept below,
    Above the cold sky shone;
    And all around, with a chilling sound,
    From caves of ice and fields of snow,
    The breath of night like death did flow
    Beneath the sinking moon.

    The wintry hedge was black,
    The green grass was not seen,
    The birds did rest on the bare thorn’s breast,
    Whose roots, beside the pathway track,
    Had bound their folds o’er many a crack
    Which the frost had made between.

    Thine eyes glowed in the glare
    Of the moon’s dying light;
    As a fen-fire’s beam on a sluggish stream
    Gleams dimly, so the moon shone there,
    And it yellowed the strings of thy raven hair,
    That shook in the wind of night.

    The moon made thy lips pale, beloved—
    The wind made thy bosom chill—
    The night did shed on thy dear head
    Its frozen dew, and thou didst lie
    Where the bitter breath of the naked sky
    Might visit thee at will.

    – Percy Bysshe Shelley

    The moon’s dying light: cypress boughs and yew, death-cold beams of white musk, white thyme, marbled orris, Spanish moos, grave soil, and a sprig of rosemary.

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  • Love Makes Monsters of Us All

    It’s nature. A savage world of little things dying or eating each other right beneath our feet.

    Flora and fauna, man and beast entwined in a cycle of endless brutality: soil and rot and the heat of rage, blood-smeared musk and sharp decay.

  • The Battle of Vigridr

    And now, for the third time, Garm, the hound with blood upon his jaws, barked. He had broken loose on the world, and with fierce bounds he rushed toward Vigard Plain, where the Gods had assembled their powers. Loud barked Garm. The Eagle Hræsvelgur screamed on the edge of heaven. Then the skies were cloven, and the tree Ygdrassil was shaken in all its roots.

    To the place where the Gods had drawn up their ranks came the ship of Jötunheim and the ship of Hel, came the riders of Muspelheim, and Garm, the hound with blood upon his jaws. And out of the sea that now surrounded the plain of Vigard the serpent Jörmungand came.

    What said Odin to the Gods and to the Champions who surrounded him? “We will give our lives and let our world be destroyed, but we will battle so that these evil powers will not live after us.” Out of Hel’s ship sprang Fenrir the Wolf. His mouth gaped; his lower jaw hung against the earth, and his upper jaw scraped the sky. Against the Wolf Odin All-Father fought. Thor might not aid him, for Thor had now to encounter Jörmungand, the monstrous serpent.

    By Fenrir the Wolf Odin was slain. But the younger Gods were now advancing to the battle; and Vidar, the Silent God, came face to face with Fenrir. He laid his foot on the Wolf’s lower jaw, that foot that had on the sandal made of all the scraps of leather that shoemakers had laid by for him, and with his hands he seized the upper jaw and tore his gullet. Thus died Fenrir, the fiercest of all the enemies of the Gods.

    Jörmungand, the monstrous serpent, would have overwhelmed all with the venom he was ready to pour forth. But Thor sprang forward and crushed him with a stroke of his hammer Miölnir. Then Thor stepped back nine paces. But the serpent blew his venom over him, and blinded and choked and burnt, Thor, the World’s Defender, perished.

    Loki sprang from his ship and strove with Heimdall, the Warder of the Rainbow Bridge and the Watcher for the Gods. Loki slew Heimdall and was slain by him.

    Bravely fought Tyr, the God who had sacrificed his swordhand for the binding of the Wolf. Bravely he fought, and many of the powers of evil perished by his strong left hand. But Garm, the hound with bloody jaws, slew Tyr.

    And now the riders of Muspelheim came down on the field. Bright and gleaming were all their weapons. Before them and behind them went wasting fires. Surtur cast fire upon the earth; the tree Ygdrassil took fire and burned in all its great branches; the World Tree was wasted in the blaze. But the fearful fire that Surtur brought on the earth destroyed him and all his host.

    The blood of the gods cascading onto earth and into sea: salt and sinew, venom and flame, and bone shards scattered across the gore-soaked soil of Óskópnir.

  • The Burying-Ground

    Beside the road at its crest a still higher summit rose, bleak and windswept, and I saw that it was a burying-ground where black gravestones stuck ghoulishly through the snow like the decayed fingernails of a gigantic corpse. The printless road was very lonely, and sometimes I thought I heard a distant horrible creaking as of a gibbet in the wind. They had hanged four kinsmen of mine for witchcraft in 1692, but I did not know just where.

    Despair and desolation in a potter’s field: black soil and memories of screams on the pyre.

  • The Silence of the Woods

    Arnold Böcklin

    Red soil and scattered pine needles, acorn husks and pine cones, burgundy pitch and oak leaves, drooping black cedar branches, woodmoss, and a cluster of pale, poisonous berries.