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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

Freesia McKee

Skunk Hollow Mine

“…a proposed limestone mine located near environmentally sensitive areas…”

–“Green Lake County sued over Skunk Hollow Mine,” Ripon Press, August 18th, 2022


I don’t know from experience

because I will never grow old enough


How creeping water paves a place

like smoke filling a cave, metal filings like dust on stone


Sometimes you don’t need to know someone

to tell they are in distress; it’s their breathing,

the way they look, what people say

they want to do to them


Sometimes I scrape stone against stone

or throw one into the water

just to hear it dollop and sink


Sometimes it is the case

that the more I am out in the world

the more hesitant I am to mine it —


(When I was panicked, you moved your hand

from my temple to the place behind my ear

and made a sound like cattails


Then, we took a walk

on a gravel road of crushed limestone)


Think about a raccoon 17,000 years ago

scratching out a depression


Think of what it must be like to be full of water

that whole time


Think of this depression

filling with water finely


Think about it from kayak and cornfield

or only from the road

Multiple Midwests

a truck’s
hateful puny
flag flag flag
like toilet paper
to a non-skid
shoe a waving
landing differently
from the
of the Midwest
we grew up in—
a city
on land
we felt we
truly belong to
or figure out how
now we live
in a place where
is spotted
fields away
and we think
this is not
where we grew
up yet
we know
better now
this rabid pave
has always been
the stalking
of home


Freesia McKee (she/her) writes about the influence of personal and collective histories on how we experience place. Freesia’s writing practice includes poetry, hybrid-genre work, lyric essay, memoir, flash fiction, book reviews, and literary criticism. Freesia grew up in Milwaukee, earned an MFA in poetry at Florida International University, and is the 2022-2023 Poet in Residence at Ripon College.

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