a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
A Room of One’s Own
and women who walked, carrying water jugs
on their heads; waters in placental sacs within their bodies. Women
who scooped clay and breathed life into vessels, into stories, into songs,
into the material of sustenance. They, like she, planted seeds,
harvested blossoms, fruits, roots, and seasoned meals at their tables
with stories of women through generations – the walls
permeated by the creative forces of women, the bricks
charged with dreams, suffused with memories of sunlight, rivers,
her hands as she smoothes clay into form, evens exposed surfaces
with trowel. At her kiln altar she kindles flame, bakes
away water, crystals. Basalts of ocean floor and granites of land
comingle, sing, and in the final
flash of inferno, fuse.
For days the bricks breathe out heat. They inhale sunshine, desert
night air. The brick maker sweeps away ash. She lifts
her bricks. One by one, she carries them
to her secret place by the river. One by one
she massages them
with mortar, humming a Mixolydian memory as she works.
Brick by brick she builds her place, a base as ancient
as sea floor and continent whose crystals
give rise to light and life.
Memories of mineral pulse
a scintillating song.
The brick maker sings
as worlds burn within her,
hums as her hands push into dough, as she
pushes another stick into the cooking fire
door, leans out, tending toward light. She
rises, crosses threshold
to seek her place
at a shore,
in a cave, beside
a stream, within
a light-filled room –
to set cadence to page.
She must rise to this task even if
no one ever reads her words
because the great machinery of the world depends
upon the highly-tuned listener: the woman
who sets down her
Catherine Young’s writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best American Essays. She worked as a national park ranger, farmer, mother, and educator. Her ecopoetry and prose is published in journals nationally and internationally including Cold Mountain, Ascent, Minding Nature, and in the anthology Contours. Rooted in farm life, Catherine lives with her family in Wisconsin. Her writings and podcasts are available on her website.