Please help the Black Earth Institute continue to make art and grow community so needed for our time. Donate now »

a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Section 5: I am (not) the Cosmos

Mary Cresswell

Mary Cresswell
Incomplete sentences reach up from the sea floor. Bright-striped fishes race through them to the first lagoon, hooked south of a back-curved bay. Clause by clause, they make waves in a light-free world. Seaweed circumspectly covers parts left naked in the sand, keeping to patterns of dead men’s pain and dead women’s rage.
At low tide, truth and beauty collapse across the rocks, undetectable except by sonar or in that preternatural calm where tide pools hide small crabs who scuttle in angles. Along warm undersea rifts grow strange new taxa we may never name. Part shark, part minnow they follow offcurrents and swim away in the stink of seaweed. Wrack and ruin, love and justice bob in the filth.
We cruised in full belief. We trusted tides and well-mapped lights, forgetting the falseness of cold men’s reefs, their oil-black minds gold-hungry in the night.
Mary Cresswell is from Los Angeles and lives on New Zealand’s Kapiti Coast. In 2015, Canterbury University Press will publish Fish Stories, her collection of ghazals and glosas (which is also her fourth book). She is a retired natural-history editor; her poems have appeared in journals in New Zealand, Australia, the US, Canada, and the UK. See also: Mary Cresswell at


©2024 Black Earth Institute. All rights reserved.  |  ISSN# 2327-784X  |  Site Admin