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

Decolonizing Lifeways

Suzanne Edison


Arctic Plain

Through short grass plain, the shaggy mopheads of tussock humps, I am traveling

broken

off from ship’s grasp held tight in icy fiords, whose walls are calving and crying like

orphans.

I have arrived as a beached whale upon the summer’s shore, an upended puzzle of

floes.

The gulls and shrikes careen overhead, jaegers dive bomb my limp hair in warning or

desire

for its twisted strands, fodder for their ground-borne nests camouflaged in a riot of

pointillism

matted together as one, terra incognito, I must come to know. Permafrost carpet,

shawl

of my soul, warped by arctic hours, the speed demon—light—in this latitude, pressing

flower

to seed, seed to soil, and all creatures foraging furiously before hibernation, migration or

death.

 

Height of summer, elliptical curve of northern sky never fully darkens. I dream aurora

borealis,

its green curtain falling in waves, like you, that last time, back-lit at dusk, and I hear

shooting

stars, read their outlines like a new alphabet or points of Braille I can not see but almost

touch.

Desiccated, my southern soul feeds upon open space but distances deceive. Fata Morgana

rises

shimmering over seas, another land beckons, assassinates my exhausted mind,

imagination

flummoxed, everything appears mysterious, abysmal, sealed. It is the unfading light

bent

by cold air that haunts, it is what disappears and what remains, the soon to be

frozen

tundra sponge, dense and mournful running ribbon-like through my shoes, water

squeezed

from my unfooted sock, borne high on willows, bough bound to bough, a flag of

surrender.


Middle-Aged Woman’s Singularity

I am a woman searching for her savagery,
even if it’s doomed  —June Jordan

 

Protesting injustice, monks doused themselves

with gasoline. Struck the match.

A woman climbed a tree, hundreds of years older

than she was and slated for lumber.

 

She camped there two years—

hard to imagine, remember.

The world went on. We know

the statistics but who

 

can keep the numbers straight?

Who wants to hear more

about the fingers, tongues, bodies

chopped off, cut out, blown apart?

 

I think about stones, heaped like holy bones

over street-tree roots in Brooklyn—to keep

them moist—and the man

guarding them. He doesn’t miss

 

a day, an hour. If someone lops

off a branch, steals a stone

what else disappears?

Check off the box for “love,” add

 

my sister, who upends time

watching baseball on TV with her friend

who has fallen asleep in his wheelchair,

drooling and dying and unaware

 

that she is still there.


Suzanne Edison is a Seattle poet and the author of a chapbook, The Moth Eaten World published by Finishing Line Press. Her poetry can be found in: What Rough Beast; Bombay Gin; The Naugatuck River Review, Spring 2017, as a finalist in their Narrative Contest. Among other places, her work has also appeared in The Ekphrastic Review; The Seattle Review of Books; Spillway; The Examined Life Journal, and in the following anthologies: Face to Face: Women Writers on Faith, Mysticism and Awakening, ed. Joy Harjo & Brenda Peterson, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux; The Healing Art of Writing, Volume One.
http://www.seedison.com

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