a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
were already thorned, dusted, turning indigo
with evening. Your hands were still
balmed with sagebrush, still stained
with sea figs we’d opened too early
when you asked me what it meant to be kept.
What it meant to be corked, to be pressed,
to be hung at the window.
When we met, you told me about the river
in your neighborhood, how you’d jump
from moss-covered cliffs into water,
that someday you’d live off those brambles
by the fork, and said
Wouldn’t you give everything
for a life so clean and right?
I remember those nights spent in the halo
of a lampshade, your hands
around the guitar, closing your eyes
while I’m sitting at the edge of the sofa
holding my breath, counting
the pinecones and snail shells
on my dresser, imagining a world
where I am without things, window-struck
with that heartache for groves and riverbeds.
So I’m holding one end of the whalebone
and you’re holding the other.
You ask me what’s keeping us
from casting it back to the sea,
this animal thing,
brined and sunburned brown.
And for a moment
I see you in the river
all your keepings strewn at the edge
of the water, looking at me
waiting to let go.