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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

Susan DeFreitas

Gardener’s refrain
for Warren Miller
Roots music, a hairy tuber;
digging down to mulch a bed I found
artifacts of American history
trampled by the great migrations
to the cities, the suburbs, the stars:
green plastic armymen,
a circus elephant with a trunk that spins,
and the melody to the Wabash Cannonball,
amongst the roots of the latest invasives,
tough as guitar-wire, impossible to kill.
Uncoffined, these things began to sing
a refrain in 2/4 time; I caught bits of it
between my teeth, like seeds
and spat them back to the soil,
humming as I worked
the dirt back over with an open-backed banjo,
and fiddled with the phrasing.
I mulched my heirlooms deep
with disintegrating stock reports,
harvested from the nation’s
failing newspapers, its fallen forests,
perhaps to grow
wiser in what we keep.
Resurrection is not a matter of faith,
though also, of course,
it is. Winter’s hand at last
releases the egg,
balanced on end,
and day comes swaying past,
balancing night
upon its head.
Come, let us give occasion
to faith. These rituals
of sage and sweetgrass
are more necessary
than fodder. We forget
the taste of the holy,
those starchy roots
dissolving to sweetness
on the tongue, forget
that we are spinning,
dancing like angels
on a pin. In these
new days given us
however many, however
few, let us stitch ourselves
in time with time,
plant our desires
in the dark moon
of our dark hours
and rise with our savior
in the spring.
Whether or not we believe we are
miraculous, akin.
Susan DeFreitas’s work has appeared in (or is forthcoming from) The Nervous Breakdown, Southwestern American Literature, Fourth River, Weber—The Contemporary West, and Bayou Magazine, among other publications. She holds a MFA from Pacific University and lives in Portland, Oregon, where she serves as an associate editor with Indigo Editing & Publications and a reader for Tin House Magazine.





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