a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
for Mark Irwin
Millions of years had sketched the grit
of umber and ochre in the sandstone walls
we hiked between. We had just met.
“It feels good being you,” you said,
your hands burrowed into the pockets
of my borrowed coat. Every leaf-
stripping gust in that high bright
swept through us, and the trickle of a creek
kept nicking at the trail. The gray roots
in the photo I took look like emergent
mastodons. “Jade,” you said and stopped
to pick up a stone and offer it to me.
“You could make something.” Its green round
in my palm, I felt for what it could become.
In a wide
and motionless circle, nine
below a stilled spillway,
nose to tail-fin, wait,
faint flutterings rounding their backs
in place, each moment
slipping (a white bubble
up from the dark) through the clock face
they make of creek water,
a count we might mistake
Derek Sheffield’s collection of poetry, Through the Second Skin (Orchises, 2013), was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. His poems have also appeared in The Southern Review, Poetry, Orion, The Gettysburg Review, AGNI, and The Georgia Review, and were given special mention in the Puschart Prize Anthology. Winner of the James Hearst Poetry Prize judged by Li-Young Lee, he has received fellowships from Artist Trust and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. He lives with his family on the east slopes of the Cascades in Washington State where he teaches poetry and ecological writing at Wenatchee Valley College. He is the poetry editor of Terrain.org.