Mud Man

Posted: July 20, 2014 in Fiction
Tags: , , , , ,

As near as I can tell, The Longest Salmon is now defunct. That being the case, I am republishing Mud Man here. This one means a lot to me. Please feel at liberty to share your thoughts and criticism.


There was once a man who lived
in a deep hole beneath the ground.
For a time he did not question his station in life,
preferring instead to hide his eyes from the changing sky.
This man would wake to the jostlings
and happenings of the world above him
and shake his brow and be glad to be free in his hole
where the dirt was cool and close and the stale air familiar.

In his quieter moments the man would grope
for his own beginnings and his mystery heritage.
He would whisper to himself that some day long since past
a queen must have walked over his hole
and in that instant given birth
and passed on,
for he knew himself to be noble and strong
else how could he have thrived?
Surely few others could live his way.

Curiosity and hope stirred in him.
In wilder moments he convinced himself
his strength was such that he could leap out of his hole.
He would climb until his caked fingernails grasped grass
and would hang there,
waiting for his eyes to adjust to the light and the speed
and for other eyes to notice him.

He made contact this way
occasionally with a passerby
a child at play
or a woman who wished closeness.
In the endings his hole proved too small
or it would rain
and he would assist his departing love,
sinking his feet into the mud under her weight
and, lifting her,
give to her the freedom of open space and breezes.
He would not climb again for years.

The man grew old in spirit.
His mind shrank to stubbornness
and his heart to mistrusting all above him.
Jealousy infirmed,
and injustice steeled and destroyed the life-long low
so that all his action became rebellion.

This bravely resentful man shunned all but his hole
and whispered in his heart that it was his,
only his!
to defend against compassion or attack,
neither of which can come when hidden in a hole,
no matter how much he craved it.

Conversation is necessary to life
and lacking in lonely holes
save for the worms, who are dreadful dinner guests.
The man would fester restless
and rail and shriek to himself about ideas
like fairness
and potential
and walls of mud which give and demand strength,
all the while hitting and pushing and thrashing against his hole
through private night
and dreadful noon.

Until at last
the world above grew tired of the protestations
of the wild soul in the hole,
and drew up busy plans and brought in heavy machines
and filled in the man,
and his hole,
with Rebar and concrete
in order to support the central column
of a monument to freedom.


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