The Dirt Eaters

Whenever we grew tired and bored of curb ball,
              of encircling the scorpions we found under rocks

by the mother-in-law tongue within a fiery circle
              of kerosene and watching as they stung themselves

to death, we ate dirt; soft, grainy, pretend chocolate
              dirt, in our fantasies sent to us by distant relatives

in El Norte. Fango. We stood in a circle, wet the dirt
              under our bare feet, worked with our fingers to crumble

the clogs with our nails, removed the undesired twigs,
              pebbles, and beetles. Dirt—how delicious. How filling.

We ate our share of it back then. Beto, the youngest, 
              warned us not to eat too much; it could make us sick,

vomit, give us the shits, or even worse, worms. 
              We laughed. We ridiculed him. We chanted

after him: "¡Lo que no mata, engorda!
              ¡Lo que no mata, engorda!"

What doesn’t kill you makes you fat, and stronger.

From 90 Miles: Selected and New Poems, © 2005 by Virgil Suárez. Reprinted with permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.