Greetings from...the Road to Nowhere

Greetings from...the Road to Nowhere

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Digging My Way to China

by Isabel Kestner

We dug holes. Before the home computer,
when there was only one TV in every home
and video games were only machines at the arcade,
we dug holes. Shovels went missing.

Constantly, all the kids in the neighborhood
taking their unscheduled turns dug into
the sandy dirt of the vacant lot three
houses from where I lived.

Sometimes we had several holes.
Not everyone always agreed on where
to dig and occasionally there was some
competitive digging. Our useless dent
in the earth is bigger than your useless
dent in the earth.

But they weren’t really useless.
Sometimes, scrap wood would cover part
of a bigger hole and they would often be
six or eight feet wide. It was not a useless
hole now. Now it had a roof. Now the
temporary runaways seeking shelter from
beatings for a few hours had somewhere
to run to, somewhere safe to call their own
and rest for a while.

We dug a lot of holes.

When they got so deep that the really
little kids couldn’t crawl out on their own
someone’s mother always made a few
older kids fill in the hole and thus
we had to start digging another.

We were going somewhere with our stolen
but sort of barrowed shovels. The kids my age
still thought we could dig our way to China.
We didn’t know anything about China.
I didn’t care about China. I just knew it
wasn’t Jersey and I wanted to get away.
I was digging to China. I thought
it would be better there.

We dug a lot of holes.

No one ever got to China. But every once
and a while one of the big kids would hand me
a broken shovel. Big kids never dug with little kids.
Age determined status. But every once and a while,
the big kids would let me dig a hole with them.
They knew I was trying to get to China.
They knew why I wanted to dig my way to China.
They knew I couldn’t dig my way to China.
But they gave me a shovel and hoped for my sake
I would find a way to dig my way there.

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