a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Birch Bark, Spruce Root
For David Moses Bridges
A meditation growing inward—
the birchbark canoe.
If you don’t find what you need,
dig deeper, unearth the roots,
let them coil in ribbons on the floor
at your feet.
Handle the knife carefully.
Test the steel. Cut the heart-
wood out, follow the grain,
tease the layers apart;
the scent seeps into your fingers.
Join the seams with spruce root—
Elastic when wet,
bound like iron when dry.
Bear fat and pine pitch seals,
signature fiddleheads etched
in winter bark.
We don’t master this,
it suffers our crude hands.
Birch tree will grow a new coat,
spruce send out a new root.
The canoe will glide on the bay
wearing the eyes of the forest.
Valerie Lawson’s work has been published in Main Street Rag, BigCityLit, Sensations Magazine, and others. Lawson’s first book, Dog Watch, was released in 2007. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Lawson won awards for Best Narrative Poem and Spoken Word at the Cambridge Poetry Awards. In 2008 Lawson was invited as a Legacy Poet to the first Women of the World Poetry Slam in Detroit. Lawson co-edits Off the Coast literary journal and teaches poetry at Cobscook Community Learning Center and Sunrise Senior College at UMaine Machias with her partner, Michael Brown. In 2012, Lawson became a member of the board of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance.