I am an embryo buried underground Dirt fills my nostrils and pries at my mouth but I don’t need to breathe down here, because I absorb oxygen Through my skin. It is damp and cool, but never Cold. The soil holds me tight inside her because I am her baby. The earthworms keep me company. They don’t have eyes or ears, so they navigate the world by feeling. They taught me how to feel. The earth is constantly vibrating; I am in tune with the ants in their colonies and the roots of plants drinking water. And I can feel my mother’s heart beating steadily. Ba-bum, ba-bum. Feeling is my favorite pastime. There are lots of vibrations above me. They tap and thrum, groan and tremble. It frightens me. The creatures in the ground are all so small; the ones above me must be big. I curl in on myself. My mother cradles me tighter.
Am I happy? Sometimes I think about leaving. Something else surely must exist. But I love my mother. Ba-bum, ba-bum. Could I even live anywhere else?
It’s hard to keep track of time down here. The bugs are born and they die; this is my only marker. I don’t remember being born and I don’t know how long I’ve been alive. I don’t know when I will die. Maybe I will never die.
Sometimes I am overcome with sadness, and I cry. My mother’s heart beats harder. Ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum. She loves me.
I don’t need to eat or sleep in my mother’s womb. The worms eat dirt, and beetles eat the worms. My mother is a life-giving ecosystem and she loves her children. But I live because my mother’s heart beats. Ba-bum, she loves me, ba-bum. The roots have started to wrap around my arms and legs. I realize the worms haven’t visited me in a long time.
Artist Statement: I wrote this poem about my experience with depression and self-isolation. I liked using the idea of being buried underground as an analogy for declining mental health — it can often drain one's social battery and keep them from being with their loved ones. If you know someone struggling with depression, one of the best things you can do for them is to ask them to spend time with you; even if they don't want to, it can help to know that someone cares about them. If you are struggling with your mental health, try spending time in the sunlight.