a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
congregants, released by the bells, cross the bridge
without a glance down to the water
or the swans. But the fishermen,
waist-deep in the slate and sudden water,
genuflect toward the river in hope of fish.
I stop to watch their lines
carve quarter moons out of the sky
pulled down to meet the wave-tips
and tossed high again—a night passing
with each motion. The fuchsia flirts gaudy
skirts and purple petticoats over every wall.
What color was the river on the day
my great-great-great-grandmother fled Ireland,
a child on the coffin ships? Here I am,
a stranger to my mother’s womb.
A knife-gash of oxygen in the gills
lodges in my throat. Caught,
a fish rises into a world
that cannot sustain its body.
Melissa L. Sevigny grew up in Tucson, Arizona where she fell in love with the Sonoran Desert’s ecology, geology, and dark desert skies. Her writing explores the intersections of science, nature, and history, with a focus on the American Southwest. She is the author of three nonfiction books, most recently Brave the Wild River (W.W. Norton, 2023). Her poetry has appeared in RATTLE and Sierra Magazine and been anthologized in The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide, and her science reporting has aired nationally on NPR. She has a BS in environmental science from the University of Arizona and an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.