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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Section 3: Absence

Kathleen Hellen

Kathleen Hellen
Yellow cedars emigrating north,
from Bear Rock and the Terrace islands.

Glacier Bay, the bay
retreating, as Muir had seen,
the “owl with no feathers” leaving lesser

glaciers. Bear tracks at the bottom where the otter
used to feast on salmon bellies, pemmican to grease
the hunt.

                         On his head the raven at the shore
wears the mask of the immortal. No word for what is lost—
baskets made of spruce root, berry, coats
that weave the story of the mountain goat
in code… white.brown.white.brown… a cloak

infused with smoke, the crested paddle
telling salmon who you are,
where you’re going.
Kathleen Hellen, poet, educator and former journalist, is the author of the award-winning collection Umberto’s Night, published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House, and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Her poems are widely published and have appeared recently or are forthcoming in The Massachusetts Review, The Nation, North American Review, Poetry East, Poetry Daily, The Sewanee Review, Southern Poetry Review, Witness, and elsewhere. She has served as senior poetry editor for the Baltimore Review and now sits on the editorial board of Washington Writers’ Publishing House. Twice nominated for the Pushcart, she teaches in Baltimore.



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