The Earth

If I remember well, we've never been underneath the Earth's shell. We'll take now a tour of sorts, in just a few words. The dashing prince lets himself slide all the way underground on a rope made from the bark of the tallest lime tree around. He goes down and down every level, and the lime tree's bark continues to unravel. When all the lime trees around are left without their bark load, the dashing prince will know he's reached the end of the road. We, however, need to discover a less slippery path. Let us find the best place through which to leisurely depart – only lazy people rush down head first, and that is not smart. I can see, unfortunately, no well-mouth around, only very, very small holes in the ground. How do ants avoid falling into such a trap, tumbling down these would be a terrible mishap. Here's the hole of a snake, I wonder if at this hour it might be awake. But not even this hole goes all the way under the maple tree, and we've got plans much bigger than that, you and me. The fox nods with a big grin on its face: it knows of a burrow not far from the fence. Never mind, we'll go down this cave, which I have just discovered under a leaf's grave. Two little doors seem to want to put you to the test: "Oh please do come in, it's like the Wild West." The earth globe seen from inside makes you feel different than when seen from outside. Your steps resound like some church bells pealing and hoards of bats are hanging from the ceiling. (They are like lamps, black and blind, making sure darkness would never subside.) We have left the wind and the grass behind, the earth is not the same when you're under the earth's hide. It is stockier and it is truer. The part outside seems to be just cinders and smoke blowing, it is down here that the real fire is burning. All things out there are begun here, from the circus elephants to the unruly hare. Even the eagle that always flies high in the air has at least one claw stuck in this lair. At least the shadow that keeps him together is earthly, it prevents him from getting lost among stars nightly. Let's make the racket in our thoughts quieten down and listen to how the world begins in the ground. How it grows out of it slowly and magisterial, like a statue growing out of its pedestal. The surface of this globe is riddled with holes like a colander, but in the middle all's new, like at the beginning of the calendar. The ice pillars and the hearths of fire are sitting together and seem to conspire. The coals are slowly growing wings – who knows, they might turn into reed buntings. A meek, lowly rock could only give birth to a frog. And an even lowlier one only to a toad. You can guess there is gold in the wall niches, they look like the small shiny eyes of some fishes. God, it is so rich and wonderful this cave, which I have discovered under a leaf's grave! When we go back up, all that we saw here begun will already be finished and long gone. It will be beautiful though, to have a sky above and earth under your toes. The sun will have an east and also a west, and the squirrels will chew hazelnuts dressed in striped vests. People will grow hair and then blades of grass, the rabbits will be scared away by instruments of brass. And all the rest, as you know, will be told exactly like in those stories of old. from Where Do We Go When Running Away?, Tineretului, 1967

by Marin Sorescu (1931-1996)