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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

Charles Oberkehr


The wind howls tonight
As if it invented loneliness

As if the full moon didn’t sail alone
In an empty sky

As if the neighbor’s wind chime
Wasn’t stuck on a single note

As if all these houses weren’t full
Of dark windows and rooms

Where people are dreaming
Each on their own side of the bed.


After my sister died

I planted a cherry tree


Dug a hole in the yard and cursed

Every rock the shovel hit


I would reach into the hole

To pull it out


Digging my fingers

Into the dirt underneath it


Half hoping it wasn’t a rock

This time maybe, but a treasure


And I had found the spot

Someone always meant to come back to


Like the stories we read as children

We spent our childhood following maps


Marking off careful paces

Looking for landmarks.


She wanted no grave, no stone or marker,

Nothing to come back to and no way to get lost


“Just give my body to science and

Let me help someone else,” she said.


So now she is gone

And now she is everywhere,


And like those pirates in the moonlight

We take only what we can carry


Into the night and bury the rest

Like a cherry tree just planted


Casting its leafy shadow on the grass

Like it’s always been here.


Charles Oberkehr is a Lutheran pastor (ELCA), counselor, and award-winning poet (Beauty for Ashes Poetry Prize) living in New Holland, Pennsylvania. His latest collection of poetry, “How Monsters Get Under the Bed” is available now from Amazon.

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