for the good of the earth and the bad of me

When my mother was my age and seven years younger, she’d dig holes in the backyard for the things that failed in the kitchen.

My father would rant and throw his big hairy arms around with grunts about the poor kids in Ethiopia and wasting not wanting not.

He’d scream at her about being hopeless and good for not much and did she think there was a tree down the back with money dangling from it’s branches.


She’d lower her head and say no, no, of course not.

He’d slap her and say she was finally speaking sense.

I’d run to the tree to be sure.

My mother worked hard and diligently as a nurse, caring for everyone and thankfully she was also savvy to the therapy of self preservation.

My father was a bully.

And so, she dug holes for the burnt dinner, the pots with sticky forever residue and the cakes that never made it to edible.

She dug holes for the empty spaces that needed filling.

I dig holes now; in an imaginary garden, outside, just past the children’s window and before the back fence. I dig deep holes and fill them with the angst of what-have-we-done.

I fill the holes with wishes and dreams and sorry about the yesterdays. I pack them deep with an ample supply of fuck you and I don’t care and plenty of whatever.

Sometimes, the holes overflow, especially after a good down pour. On those days, when I’m trapped inside, I understand about a little family disease which runs steadily in my family genes. It’s called cabin fever. We catch that a lot around here.

Nobody knows about the holes in the backyard and down the side of the house. Nobody knows about the ugly things I’ve buried there. The ruined and weak. The given up and the forgotten.

People sometimes step on them and never know the difference.

I always make certain to replace the earth perfectly on the ground, to be sure things are smooth again.

My dog was sniffing around out there last week and I was watching nervously from the kitchen window because although I know she’d love to stick her teeth into the wooden handle of my husbands favourite wok (now damaged), I’d prefer she didn’t drag up old mistakes again.

He loved that wok and he’d owned it since before we met. He started cooking seduction in it during the second month of our relationship.

The first month was filled with toasted sandwiches and baked potatoes.

I should consider a vegetable garden, if only I had more faith in the earth. I could fill the holes with seeds of hope and optimism. If only I had enough faith in myself.

I am honest about the dirt beneath my feet.

It’s better for dead things.

I’ve never been good at growing goodness.

Ask my father.

If you can find the right hole.

© ryan

for the good of the earth and the bad of me

PJ Ryan

Melbourne, Australia

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