In Earth by Anu Makinde

I share my brother’s tomb

In our time apart, I hope for his arrival funeral

With guns, green grass and loud hills

We spend time along rocked, blued, edges

Arms as balance

Mine more, yours less

Legs crossed like the skies we share

Mine more 

Yours less

I present compost as an abolitionary imaginary. Where our collective is the recognition of life, and peering into that life gives us a chance to relate to death differently. 

Dirt tells us many secrets while also keeping several from us. This month I want to think of Earth as a story. A place where we can see the whispers in the trees and the rejoicing amongst the twinkles floating on water. To discover Earth’s story is to make questions of spacetime and unfold processes of transformation that keep us connected to those behind us and running in front of us. 

These processes of transformation surround us. In every facet of life, just as we accept that a flower, although beautiful, will become compost someday, we rely on change to transform the compost back into the flower. We build upon ruins that precede us through the same old plays ain’t shit new. We delight in the sameness as we comb frayed ends for difference.

Composting shows up in all areas of life, gripping our agency through the sticky glue of life and death. Just as compost, Black life employs archives full time. We too emerge from the encounter with a sense of incompleteness and with the recognition that some part of the self is missing as a consequence of this engagement. It’s wet, often stinking mess provides us with what deserves honouring. This borrowing is a natural element, one that keeps us afloat in our story of home on Earth.

Compost, like ancestry, keeps us guessing. It is a space we all hold as we wonder of past lives and present. And in some cases, I wonder about our ability to do our past a favour. Have we kept legacies? Abused them? The residuals we tote around in our being serve our imaginations, foremostly. Referring to imagination as a wide space that we continue to nurture, the physical space we inhabit then becomes our collective archive. We ponder on its past lives, maybe not explicitly but through our livelihood in it. 

Do you notice the holes in the soil bringing seeds to life mirror the curious patterns of our minds that bring the past to the future? I wanted to ask others of their connections to compost in any form. I spoke with three different people to ask how they excavate history or find a story in compost and why they became inclined to do so. 

What I found was among us all, there is not only an itch to search but a need for it. Wondering and acting have a home in compost. Curiosity is strung to possibility. Elastic as ever with changes that force us to our future. Guessing games alike, I made an excerpt cut out and stitched up of 3 worlds- nostalgia, composting and history. 

So in other(s) words, on compost:

My most favourite thing is, like I said, it’s a really essential practice-you never realize how so many things can go in the compost. At least for me, when I have to bring the compost outside, throwing out the compost bag- like the, the goopy, liquidy stuff – I want to know more about it. 

It feels like an invitation to delve deeper. Sometimes it’s weird. Why do I connect it to my real life? I know it’s just a part of the situation. I feel like in the grand scheme of things, I have so many other possibilities to investigate the past. Looking at pictures, mostly… Just thinking about when people bring old elements from things and put them into new things

If that were to happen now, what would I do? It’s so personal in a way, you know, a couple of weeks ago, I went looking for pictures. I think it’s like a ripple for people to dip their toes into nostalgia, and [fou(i)nd] a bunch of really funny stuff like a gesture towards a better ecological sphere.