We Eat Mud

by Peter Markus

One night us brothers, we got home from fishing fish out of the dirty river that runs its way through our dirty river town only to find our father there in the kitchen, our father standing where our mother so often always stood, in front of the stove, with his back looking back at us brothers, and his face facing away from us, and what it was he was doing, standing there like this, in front of the stove, was he was fixing us all up some supper: mud cakes is what he said he was almost done up cooking, when we asked what it was he was cooking up. And a mud pie, too, he said, and he opened up the oven's door, and when he did a muff of muddy smoke came coughing up and out.

photo by Jessica Fanzo

Out is all that our father said to us when we asked him where was our mother. Us brothers, we both of us, inside our heads, what we were wondering was out where?—though neither one of us wondered this out loud. Sit, sons, is what our father said to us next. Us, our father's sons, we did like our father told. We sat ourselves down, in the middle of the kitchen's floor, right where we were standing, us brothers, we plopped our boy bodies down, down on our hands and knees, and like this we waited for whatever our father was going to say or do to us brothers next. When our father turned back his face so to face his face at us boys, the look on his face told us that he was happy to see us, down like this, down on our hands and knees, us brothers—our father's sons—a couple of dirt loving dogs who liked to get down and get dirty. It's hot is what our father said to us then, and he held out in his hands a pie that was made out of mud. Blow, our father told us. And we, us brothers, blew. The steam rising up and off of this baked to a crispy crusted mud, it curled up and around our boy faces—this steam became a pair of hands holding us in this place. This, this is where we belong is what these hands whispered to us. And it was like this, with us brothers down on our hands and knees, and with our mouths wide open, and with our father standing over us, watching over us brothers, with his boots skinned thick with mud: like this, we began to eat.

Peter Markus' The Singing Fish is now available from Calamari Press