a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
With it, I drove to you through the belly of the country, morning light sharp against the windshield, sharp against my collarbone and chest.
You watched as I unloaded the careful lines of my arms, teeth taut between thin lips, measuring the distance between who I’d been & what I was becoming.
Because the difference between a word and a wound is run, I ran myself into the ground learning how to pound my terror into something I could name: I wanted to look at my reflection and see steel & power—I wanted only my own restraint.
For three days, you take me across the city. We swing our limbs, dive through crowds that pulse underground. For three nights, I measure the distance between my thighs, check every mirror for signs of my undoing.
The morning you drive me away from the city, into the country, we pick strawberries, basil, tomatoes, squash, & lie on a blanket in a green-corn sea. We unpack our bounty: bread & wine, melons with salt, butter & cheese.
You could have cracked me then, quick as an egg—you could have peeled the slick ooze open.
Instead, you show me what it means to take a bounty & devour it
How to let it fill the corners of my mouth & allow a day to go slowly:
how to shout under a deluge from the clouds & give in to it
to pull to the side of the road & strip our girl-bodies down,
step to the lip of a river & dive in with nothing but a gray wind,
rain & a tenderness that fills us so completely
we become empty as the car, quiet as silt that drips over seats &
trails down our legs as we drive highway lanes & discover
that the city, too, is leaking,
the Mississippi stretching her girth
over the city streets, streets becoming
the body’s river & the river carving
Marie Scarles is a poet, writer, photographer, and movement worker from Mystic, Connecticut, living in Brooklyn, New York. She works as the Communications Coordinator at NY Renews, a coalition of over 300 environmental justice, labor, faith, youth, and community groups organizing for climate justice across New York State. Her poems, essays, and reviews have been published in Los Angeles Review of Books, The Believer, Tricycle Magazine, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She received her MFA in creative writing from Rutgers University–Camden.