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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

Valerie Loveland

Mt. Monadnock White Dot Trail
The ranger warns: There are no easy trails here.
The white dots on the trail tell me to turn back, unconvinced
of my quadriceps, my fortitude. They are trying to do me a favor.
I don’t take advice from blazes.
The mountain stands up straighter, steepens,
smoothes out his wrinkles. He laughs when I slip,
when I run out of water.
Everyone else on the trail exhibits their superior preparation
by passing me while wearing fabulous hiking attire: fetching vests,
special socks that look normal.
They talk to the mountain
like they are old friends.
The mountain makes fun of my backpack. I think he’s angry
we wore the same dull brown.
He short-sheeted my lungs.
The skinny trees attempt to assist
but bend when I grab them. They try their best.
The rooted ground thins, trees vanish
and it is just me and the rock.
I climb the peak, but then he forms another higher, rockier one, then another.
The air disperses from the altitude. Soon, I am an expert
climber, but when I reach each top, another summit
always looms.
Spectacle Island
Its beauty belies its illicit history.
Where did they hide the trash piles that swallow
bulldozers? What “illegal activities”
closed the island’s two hotels? How many horses
did the factory render before it was torn down?
I climb the North Drumlin: a sky gorged
with kites. The top of the world floods
my ears with air until they crackle and unlock.
East view: city skyline, West view: sailboats.
Blackberry bushes line paths, all ripe. A beach entices,
until a sign warns me:
asbestos wears a beach rock disguise.
I look away
when gulls stab open a struggling crab’s shell.
Later, a bird spirals upwards with a clam
clenched in her beak,
then releases.
After eating, she admires herself,
mother of pearl inside the empty shell shimmers
like a mirror.
Valerie Loveland is the author of Reanimated, Somehow (Scrambler Books, 2009). Her poetry has been featured in Dzanc Book’s anthology Best of the Web 2008 and at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. She enjoys running, audio poetry, and works as an optician in Action, Massachusetts.

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