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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 One Earth

Melissa Tuckey

Al Fresco
An unseasonably warm day, the house held its humor.
We worked slowly covered the peas and lettuce,
Kept indoors until the sun rolled out its reds,
made gold and round everything once flat.
We dined on a patio overlooking the pond where
neighbors poked for toads.     Does laughter release joy?
They chant and orgy      those toads.
Walking twilight we’re drawn to the pitch of peepers,
engage in a standoff with a leaf we thought was a bird,
startle a woodcock from the grass.
The warm air is an embrace, we hope for a storm,
feeling it near   the migration of toads
to our neighborhood pond.
The ones who come early chant for the others.
I hear their singing as a call to prayer.

The light on your hills is a sadness that lowers
into a kind of dusk
that feels like undressing.
My heart aches to cross your state line.
I do not speak your language,
nor have I trained my ear
not to miss you.
I’ve known your ghosts,
lived next door to strangers,
watched the old man and his mules
tend to slowness in the landscape.
Heard tell.     Made due.     Broke something
while trying to fix it.
I’ve seen the mountain blown clear off to make
some kind of progress out of nothing.
Been as flat inside as a landscape after the rush for coal.
Watched the water turn brown
and the snakes come up.
Lurked awhile in the whipporwill
dark, clinging to every sound.
Melissa Tuckey is author of Tenuous Chapel, chosen by Charles Simic for the ABZ First Book Award (2013) and Rope as Witness, a chapbook published by Pudding House (2007). Her honors include a fellowship from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, a residency at Blue Mountain Center, and artist awards from DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and Ohio Arts Council. Her poems have been anthologized in Ecopoetry Anthology and Fire and Ink: An Anthology of Social Action. Tuckey has a background in environmental activism and these concerns are present in her work. She is cofounder of Split This Rock, a national organization that celebrates poetry of witness and provocation. She now lives in Ithaca, NY where she works as a head cook at an ecovillage, an editor, and college writing instructor. You can visit her website at





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