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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: The Mountain Was Alive

Sean Prentiss

Wilderness Language
We speak a language glued together as much by sap gum as
            linguistics, structured with the salt of dried sweat
            not merely vowels & consonants. Speech birthed as
            much from July air as syntax & diction.
When you say, Love, I see a sun shower.
When you say, Pride, we rub the rocks of our callouses,
            pass glazed ham to Kevin.
When you say, Clock out, we merely call Tool count to the
            forest, walk many miles home, & grind a bastard
            file across the cheek of an axe head.
It’s two completely different languages, two completely
            different ways of speaking, of living.
When you say, Home, some hear mortgage payments, some
            hear a lawn to cut. We see a gathering of tents,
            communal meals, the sun as alarm clock, the setting
            sun as bed time.
Sean Prentiss is the author of the memoir, Finding Abbey: a Search for Edward Abbey and His Hidden Desert Grave. Prentiss is also the co-editor of The Far Edges of the Fourth Genre: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction, a creative nonfiction craft anthology. And he is the co-author of the forthcoming environmental writing textbook, Environmental and Nature Writing: A Craft Guide and Anthology. His essays, poems, and stories have appeared at Brevity, Green Mountains Review, Sycamore Review, Passages North, ISLE, Ascent, River Styx, Spoon River, Nimrod, and many other journals. His essays have won Honorable Mention in The Atlantic Monthly’s Graduate Student Writing Contest and won Fugue’s nonfiction contest, and he has been awarded the Albert J. Colton Fellowship for Projects of National or International Scope. He lives on a small lake in northern Vermont and serves as an assistant professor at Norwich University.



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