a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
down the chute into the small red furnace.
We shoveled it from the pile where the coal
truck dumped its load. Watched it burn
through a tiny metal window with a door,
moved back and forth, our little porthole.
We cut hard wood, too, stacked it in the cellar
in fall, loads of it in Dad’s open pickup.
There are pictures of us posed on a hill
of split logs before we chucked them through
an open window after handing off, chunk
after chunk. A row of kids hauling wood.
Our parents knew we’d made
a float that summer before 3 Mile Island.
“No nukes” had never been a phrase heard
in our tiny river town. We borrowed
a flat bed wagon from our neighbors
who had cows. I think the paper even
took a picture somewhere in their dusty files.
I found it hard to sign the forms
when the gas guys came some years ago.
Marcellus shale my brother read about.
Our father signed the leases for the land.
We held our breath about the water & the site.
But, they cleaned the quarry up when we said
no other place would do. The checks
helped put the girls through college.
Will Dad at 83 put a wind farm
on the ridge? Solar panels on Granny’s
clapboard house? He takes his little cart
out back to bring in wood. The kitchen
stove still burns a little coal. He reads
the news, swears aloud about the president.
Who’s never worked a day in all his life.
Who doesn’t even know to think: coal,
wood, wind, sun. How atoms split, collide?
Ellen Stone teaches at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her poems have appeared lately in Passages North, The Collagist, The Citron Review and Fifth Wednesday. Ellen’s poetry has recently been nominated for a Pushcart prize and Best of the Net. Michigan Writers’ Cooperative Press published her chapbook, The Solid Living World.