The cave was rock and mud. A damp smell of rotting life entered my lungs as I slid through deep sludge on my belly. Some things feel impossible, until they don’t. There was a miserable relief in submerging myself in layers of muck. The earth’s difficult blessing stripped me of my preferences. Its underworld revealed to me the glistening truth about grime. Everything has a place. Even the filthiest of terrains can leave you with something you didn’t know you were searching for. I propelled myself forward with shaking cold palms and breathed out into the musty passageway. The cave held all my burdens, and then released them. They crawled away from me over wet rock and disappeared. I couldn’t hold onto anything here. I removed a layer of skin that day. And even as I rattled my protest into the dark, I was forced to surrender. I lowered my head, and my chin skimmed murky water. I needed to bow in order to pass through the looming rock ceiling. I left behind a murmur, a complaint and a gasp. They floated away behind me, as I dug my gloved hands into slime. It felt like a rebirth, except I did not emerge with vibrant patterned wings, delicately renewed by goo. No, I emerged as a worm. I searched for a way to float above the dirt only to find myself coated in a slimy layer of skin. I must have left behind my wings in the mud.
Carol Krause is a poet who is renewed by slime. She has found that squirming through the mud can be a form of prayer. Carol’s poetry has recently appeared in PRISM international, Minola Review, The Fiddlehead, Best Small Fictions, and is forthcoming in Augur Magazine.