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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

Mike Corum

A Very Real Pond
An old woman decides to go for a walk. It’s springtime.
She ambles near the pond on her farm. The peepers
chirr loudly as evening nears. Her husband always
commented about the frogs when they walked
together. She gazes at the water; she misses him now.
He drowned in this pond years ago. The chorus
captivates her. She undresses not understanding
why, wades waist-high into the frigid water. She feels
a curious sensation in her fingers, toes. They detach
themselves from her body, swim away as tadpoles.
Her arms, legs become fish; they circle her several times,
swim away. Her head and torso fall forward, submerge.
She inhales water. The pond rises to meet the falling sun,
explodes as they touch. This lady, this man—they never
existed. The pond is very real, though. The frogs have
the ages in their bones—they are storytellers.
This is one of their song stories.
M.C. Escher "Fish and Frogs" 1949
I Wrap the World with a Piece of String
I decide to wrap the world with a continuous piece
of string. I approach several string companies for
sponsorship. They laugh at me, tell me it’s impossible.
I am not deterred. I gather string from many people
on my journey; their hands are my hands. From the Dakota
plains, I travel east. The seas are most difficult.
Whales and birds are my navigators. Fishermen’s torn
nets become my string. Years pass, I grow old—death nears.
I am within feet from where I started. I see the string tied
to the fencepost from decades ago. The knot holds strong,
determined. The world has forgotten my quest; perhaps they
too think me a fool. I grab the string’s ends to finish my dream,
but my body breaks. I fall into freshly tilled soil. A last breath.
A last view of crows in a tree telling their stories. My legacy is
with them now to give to the wind.
Mike Corum’s poetry has appeared in Yellow Medicine Magazine, The Iowa Laurel, and Encore. Mike is completing his MFA in Poetry at the University of Nebraska. His current mentor is Kate Gale of Red Hen Press; he worked with Jim Peterson my first semester. He is a native Iowan with deep roots in his state; he is also of Blackfoot descent. He has three grown children all making their living in the arts. He enjoys the art and magic of storytelling and attempts to capture this wonder in his poetry.
Image Credit: M.C. Escher “Fish and Frogs”, 1949


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