a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
or surviving the plague. When the inquisitions
no one expects and the battles no one forgets
faded into other crises. Back before I was born,
and somehow everything survived.
Well, Camelot crumbled, but the next year
there rose the Civil Rights and Wilderness Acts.
Then King was dead, long live the dream,
and there was me, the nukes, and the Russkies.
But once again, mushrooms became almost
only food, not clouds.
After I made it through the Cold War and
high school simultaneously, I basked
in the sure glow of Roe v. Wade, worried more
about chip mills invading Southern softwoods
than the government marching jack boots
through my body. I mean down there.
Having children seemed like a good idea,
though the population boom needed attention.
Soon so did the climate.
Then a thunderbolt of justice hit in the time of BP—
Black President and oil spill—and I told my kids
Americans are free to love whom they love.
My 8 yr. old asked, “Is it like how blacks
and whites couldn’t use to marry?” She smiled
at my nod. “I can hardly wait to see how much
fairer the world gets when I grow up.”
Never forget, Love, it almost happened.
We have t-shirts and magnets to remind us
of cheering with Gramma, of being eager to vote.
Oh Little Human, star of my dark heart,
it once seemed simple. But now strong women
retreat to the woods from a nightmare
worse than any of your infancy. Few are sleeping well.
I know I must fight & believe & dream like those
before me, but, goddamn, it was easier to save the world
back when I was the one wearing flowered
frocks that twirled, back when I was child,
not mother. But it’s my turn, and I will.
it is death practicing its quick grab
and as always (so far) missing.
She’s too quick for you, quick quack
patty-whack, you’ll get no bone from her!
Social even in sleep, she doesn’t want
to lie down alone. Once a week
our dreams entangle, the sharp edges of hers—
those little cries—dig into me like the toenails
that unwittingly knead my calf. The dish
ran away with the spoon full of sugar
and now only me in her twin bed one night
in seven can make the medicine go down.
“We talked about the end of the world,”
she reports of Sunday School the week
her teacher missed. Joining the older kids
had been a revelation. I don’t care who you are,
God, I know there’s a girl worth saving
the world for, and her heart is an Achilles heel
held in my slippery hand. I don’t care whose
God you are, Man, I know canyons and rivers
and gnarled roots of dying trees worth
changing our ways for. And, God, I know
words and lines and books as beautiful
as my daughter’s faith, but none of them
is worth dying or killing for. That’s why
once a week I sleep scrunched with a light on,
so if she jerks awake from almost falling
she’ll see whose hands have grabbed her.
Lilace Mellin Guignard lives with her husband and two children in rural Pennsylvania, where she teaches creative writing, women’s studies, and outdoor recreation leadership at Mansfield University. Her poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies, including Poetry magazine. She has published a poetry chapbook “Young at the Time of Letting Go,” and her prose book “When Everything Beyond the Walls Is Wild” about being a woman outdoors in America is forthcoming from Texas A&M Press.