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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

Ann Fisher-Wirth

And troops massed at the borders

I was alive while the nations killed the earth.

Love grew thin on my tongue.

Mostly I kept to my own small life.

Not that I didn’t care, but

what could I do, when greed and

pride gnashed at the flesh of the world?


Quince blossoms made it through the freeze,

rose-pink on thorny branches,

such a pleasure, a comfort, and cardinals warbling

under the blanket of evening sky— Then a skein, a

V of geese crying southward overhead, lit up

where the sun gilded their bellies. What matter,

I thought sometimes, if we X each other out,

the human race, we don’t deserve this beauty.

Ode to Rain

Praise the rain and the sodden bamboo,

privet, wisteria, that thrust and snake

to the sky outside my window. Praise

the dense mat of yellow and brown leaves

already fallen during the weeks

of near-drought in Mississippi,

and now the first touch of autumn air.

The crickets in the leaves, the ant

on your bare foot, curious little scrabbler.

And the times when the spirit lags.

When illness makes you lurch like a drunken sailor,

your knuckles swell, and you cannot close a fist.

But the voice instructs and steadies you,

learned over many years—breathe, just breathe,

like the rain that falls, soft and unremitting. Praise this, too.


Ann Fisher-Wirth’s sixth book of poems is The Bones of Winter Birds. Her fifth, Mississippi, is a poetry/photography collaboration with Maude Schuyler Clay. With Laura-Gray Street, she coedited The Ecopoetry Anthology, now in its third printing. She is currently coediting an issue of world ecopoetry for the journal Global South, and a Literary Field Guide to Mississippi. A senior fellow of Black Earth Institute, she has had Fulbrights to Switzerland and Sweden, and residencies at Djerassi, Hedgebrook, The Mesa Refuge, and Camac/France; next October, she’ll be in residence at Storyknife, in Homer, Alaska. Her work has received various awards, including two MAC poetry fellowships, the MS Institute of Arts and Letters poetry prize, the Rita Dove poetry prize, and 16 Pushcart nominations. She teaches at the University of Mississippi, where she also directs the interdisciplinary environmental studies program. For many years, she taught yoga in Oxford, MS.

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