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

Naomi Cohn

Naomi Cohn
Memory of Water, Chicago River
Standing on the bridge,
I feel the thrum of cars
rumbling over steel grates
as the wind buffets
a fast food wrapper, then relents
to let the greasy crumple
drop from Michigan Avenue
into the river,
and for one moment I know:
for ten thousand years
this river, now concrete-sided
and chalky green, once traced
trigonometric figures
between green sedges, serpentining
through tallgrass prairie
drawing bullfrogs, herons,
beavers. Trickling
more than romping, seeping
more than tumbling, it spread
wide through the grasslands.
In August, it sank
into the black earth.
In spring it swelled
to bind vast marshlands,
curving rope of water
coiling through a cacophony
of bird calls and frog chorus.
Naomi Cohn’s poetry has appeared in Water~Stone, Fourth River, and The Star Tribune, among others. Her chapbook about insects, Between Nectar & Eternity, is forthcoming from Red Dragonfly Press. Her poetry has been recognized by two Minnesota State Arts Board grants, two VSA Minnesota grants, and residencies at Norcroft, Anderson Center, Pine Needles, Edenfred and the Studios of Key West. Her poetry has been featured as part of St. Paul’s sidewalk poetry project and on local access cable television and National Public Radio. She’s also author of an urban watershed organizing handbook, Voices of the Watershed; and is a former editor of Disclosure, a national publication on community organizing. A native of Chicago, she now makes her home in St. Paul, Minnesota. She can also be found at:


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