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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

Robert Fillman

All week cicadas have rattled
above me as I walk behind
the lawn mower, or when
I’m crouched collecting baseballs
the neighbor’s kids accidentally
chucked into our yard, or standing
naked, dripping in the shower.
Here it is, the last week in July,
summer beginning to come to a close.
A chorus curls up from within
the tree line, rising and getting
sharper, a yellow fluttering
sound, like a fog crusting over
and settling, seeping into cracked
window seals, the slats of lawn chairs,
burrowing its way into walls.
The days have been getting shorter
for a month. It’s as if we’ve been
scared to speak of fireflies sparking
in the backyard after supper,
or the way the Fourth sidled up
and disappeared like smoke after
dousing the coals. How the season
pulses gently and then circles
louder, louder, reaching us all,
then quiets, littering ashes—
dried-out brown shells, forked, tiny claws
hooked on branches well into fall.
And we, listening even then,
trying to remember those calls.
Robert Fillman is a Ph.D. candidate and Teaching Fellow at Lehigh University, where he also edits the university’s literary magazine, Amaranth, and runs the Drown Writers Series. He was named the judge of the George S. Diamond Poetry Prize by Moravian College for the 2015-2016 academic year, and has been featured as a “Showcase Poet” in the Aurorean. Recently, his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Apeiron Review, Chiron Review, The Common Ground Review, Glassworks, Kudzu House Quarterly, Philadelphia Stories, Spillway, Third Wednesday, Tule Review, and others. He lives in eastern Pennsylvania with his wife, Melissa, and his two children, Emma and Robbie.



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