the dirt clung to the cuts his hands and crawled beneath his nails; tiny fragments of rock and bone scraping the tender skin there. it slipped between his fingers and fell back to its original resting place, seemingly unaltered and undisturbed; he covered it back with moss and brown leaves - covering the limestone and clay that lay beneath.

he stood, disregarding the soil on his shoes and knees. before him lay fields and fences, floodplains and gates. fields of corn, tobacco, sawgrass, and wheat.

the river trickled, anticipating the winter freeze. though in summer it always ran furious deep.