But after three steps into the evergreen shade,
he drops to his knees and begins to furrow.
It’s here, mama, he says. Let’s dig.
I pick up a knobby spruce twig and poke absently at dirt,
hoping we can start walking again.
No, mama, like this. With your hands.
I pretend I don’t hear.
He takes my hands in his own, forces them down.
Fine sand runs through my fingers,
old spruce needles swim in it like unstrung commas.
I settle in, sifting and digging up dirt. Making piles.
No mama, deeper than that, he says,
scratching with his nails into the hardpan.
I dig deeper, past my desire to keep my hands clean.
Past whatever I had set out to do. Treasure is cold
and filled with crooked things that slip through fingers.
– Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, “Treasure Hunt in the Woods”