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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

Barbara Flaherty

I spent last night with Walt Whitman.
That man could make love to all
the parts of me simultaneously.
I did not know if I was the Mississippi River
or the Yukon delta, but I was fluid motion
when he sang his song. I moved my hips
and he saw a thousand generations
of peoples of many nations springing from my thighs.
He said the voices in me were the ravings
of the unheard dead muttering from their graves
on battlefields, in sanctuaries, from river bottoms
and those cast into the sea or dead of influenza in 1827.
He said that life was forcing its green way through me
and out of my belly – which he kissed with much delight –
out of my belly would spring oak trees great enough
to make the druids dance again.
He suckled on the majesty of mountains,
found valleys deep with undergrowth.
My eyes were promethean fires to light a world gone dim.
My hands were the blacksmith’s and the artist’s.
I was called to the forge. We rolled in a ball of fire
that even his great ocean could not smother,
yet we flowed with the tides of our bodies
into the soul of one another.
When his exalting tongue licked me,
I slithered, I laughed, I cried.
He grabbed me by the shoulders and shouted,
“You are alive. You are alive. You are alive.”
He breathed on me, washed my feet with his tears,
said prayers to me, lifted and spun me
in his immense arms to the sky.
I was made of the stars he said.
In his great booming voice he howled,
“Shine  Shine  Shine.”
Now I am the Mississippi River, the Yukon delta,
the fluid motion of fire. I am the voice
of this dumb earth, and for her I sing and for you.
The call of wild geese bursts in my throat.
Mountains push through my soil.
Voices long dead speak through me
and those yet to be born.
Our cells interpenetrate.
Nothing can separate us now.
I must praise. I must sing of you,
kneel before you, wash your feet with my tears.
All praise. All praise. You are the one who saves.
Creatures shimmering with the sound of light,
you are made of the stars. Shine. Shine. Shine.
Sing on, singers. Nothing is to be lost.
a cloud pierced by a mountain,
a cloud weighting itself on the lowland,
you can not stop this kind of love.
a mountain rising through a cloud
lowlands pressed into rapture
why would we stop the way of love.
there is no control
a wind blows
all is changed.
today the lowlands are flushed in the moist green,
the mountain busies itself with the sky,
nothing remains the same.
where is the cloud?
Everything is so noisy.
I can hear the trees moan.
I can hear the mountains
settle deeper into themselves.
In this wilderness
life is loud.
I lay beside myself.
The rise and fall
of my own animal breath
strangely comforts me.
Barbara Flaherty has  published poetry and essays in various journals and anthologies. She is and the author of two books: Holy Madness (Chanting Press 2006) and Do It Another Way (Chanting Press 2008), and is the winner of the Drogheda Amergin Poetry Award, Ireland in 2005.


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