Dirt

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

In December 2008, my dear friend Cameron Cross (“Brother Wren”) set my poem “Dirt” to music and made me a first-time songwriter. He’s a shy genius — musical and linguistic among so many other things. I dug it up out of the electronic dirt December 2013 as a result of remembering things I had forgotten. I wrote the poem during my first year living away from home as a student in Chicago. I’m so glad I remembered.  

“Dirt” sung by Brother Wren

Written by Sahar Ullah 

March 11, 2006  

I’ve played in dirt
As a sandbox kind of child
Threw and spread it around
The substance
Of my bones

The element from which we come
To return to
Then arise from
Dirt of the earth
Of mud and stones

The elders say
From the beginning
Be certain of your end
And yet we shudder
Fearing the one known

They say—
Salvage every benefit
In every grain of dirt
Reminders of mortality
And an eternal home

So I say–

When digging up the dirt
Make sure to feel it
The contours
On the dark walls
Of my simple home

When digging up the dirt
Smell and note its color
That will shade
And surround me
When I lie alone

Alone in the sandbox
Enclosed and questioned
Mingling in
With the substance
Of my bones

And above all
Every time you feel
See and smell
Sandboxes or dirt
Send me a lamp-like prayer
So I am never alone.

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