a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
having cleared those we were given
cut the sky from our feet.
We knew how to swim once.
Must every daily siting become ordinary?
the deer, the elk, the canary, the fox—
these days I am only stopped by predators
along the highway, on power lines and in fields
Maybe there were three of us. Maybe
there were three hundred. They told us
we needed seeding.
I have a slip of sand from a
home I don’t carry when I travel:
this too will be taken. this too buried. Take
instead the smooth white stone that could be axe
or back scavenged from the guarded
maybe a tooth—always a tooth
(I am writing them into the surface
like a skin, because)
the truth is the stone I carry
is too soft and shiftless. There were more
in the water there were others but
I shied from the weight—enough
to bring small wings down
the body a risk soft
I’m trying to tell you
a red sky is a sign
you know instinctively.
Still we believe in mountains
insist on their promise
(in every falling story we survive
the higher ground).
Still we dig up teeth.
Still we plant the seed
insist we will grow.
in the island
in the earth
wherein my kin
dwell well with holes
fox and gaping:
Present mortars ringing window
shards and red salt
pocked brick working the emptied
Siege the day.
Sometimes the cards are warning,
the crows not what they seem, and naturally
the ravens, the brass eagles
young enough to be golden.
From feels like this
this body stone slipping
silk string from string and
but for the water
pulling from these shores.
Line bolt after body after beam on the beach
and count the dead.
In the records, in the time that comes
of flooding, turn
the body garment, hung
and carried to light
in the haustellum of the eclipse.
Dust collects, catches
to wet sand through small fingers
from the boat.
Child, my ark, would you believe me:
The point is how I love?
Tied the wrist behind the fist, not such
a broad hand open
and it was
a wide mouth. I tried my arm
at the elbow
in the pit
but these gave up light ly
in pairs. So I left my arms
without a fight.
below my waist the string found
knots to tie
and I— with knowledge of
with my teeth
Hang the line next on my hips until spinning
I hadn’t made any turns
That’s how stories go:
hero finds a way with string
hero follows a line from the mine (or the well or the womb
or the tomb)
from the birth/
of one with horns
to the white light opposed3 it.
Hero turns hips. Turns silk. Turns profit. Hands tied. The maze
remains the same:
Maaninguall’raq macamek tang’rpakartaan’itukut.4
It all comes out in the wash, with the tide.
I wanted to find the way out
line between my teeth
baited my hook and
swallowed the knot until it anchored
sure beside a mother
 In any event, abandoned or slain, and faithful, and hung, and hung
and hung. Possibly pure, possibly snake, possibly descended
from snakes. Give her a ball of string.
 “To begin with knots, many people in different parts of the world
entertain a strong objection to having any knot about their person
at certain critical seasons.”
 Here (pitifully) we do not see the sun.
 Either the rope is secured with a knot, or the rope is tangled, confused, impassable.
Abigail Chabitnoy is the author of In the Current Where Drowning Is Beautiful (forthcoming from Wesleyan 2022), How to Dress a Fish (Wesleyan 2019), shortlisted for the 2020 International Griffin Prize for Poetry and winner of the 2020 Colorado Book Award, and the linocut illustrated chapbook Converging Lines of Light (Flower Press 2021). Her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, Gulf Coast, LitHub, and Red Ink, among others. She is a member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak and currently teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts and Eastern Oregon University low-residency MFA programs as well as Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver.