a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
The Edge Of Senlis
She buys a white dress tailored of taffeta & silk
with what remains of her money
& packs her precious silver
deep within the folds of fine linen cloth.
She prays to the Virgin throughout the night,
no longer able to rub vibrant paints on her
empty canvas without sharp pains
or mix the herbs hidden within the
base of her large wicker basket
into bottles of pungent red wine.
When dawn breaks & she sees the sun,
she tries to think of the lyrics she once
sang to greet the day but it seems the words
were packed away in the linen as well.
She washes her wrinkled skin & gathers
the thin delicate layers of white
to thrust over her imperfect
swollen body. She ties the sash
in a tight bow & puts fresh
lavender flowers in her waxy grey hair.
She walks barefoot through her marsh,
at the edge of Senlis
large basket swinging from left arm,
to harvest buds, leafs, & vines. She
wanted to feel the cool mud between
her crooked tired toes one last time &
listen to the river whisper her fortune
to its flora before she goes.
After dinner, her neighbor’s daughter
stops by to deliver fish soup & discovers
the almost empty room. Piled against the
wooden table are countless painted works with
vivid scenes of river creatures & floral motifs
on hand stretched canvas.
The linen-packed silver
sits at the center with
a note addressed to her
with what paint was left
in the rusted mixing pot:
Sleep mouth open with the windows
wide & ocean spirits will whirl in.
You’ll dream salty words that swim
slow around your tongue &
linger, beached, in carbonized air.
Shauna Osborn is a Comanche/German mestiza who works as an instructor, wordsmith, and community organizer in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She received her Master of Fine Arts from New Mexico State University in 2005. Recently, she received a National Poetry Award from the New York Public Library and the Native Writer Award from Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. Her creative work is available in As Us, Cyclamen & Swords, East Jasmine Review, Go Read Your Lunch, Toe Good, Poets’ Quarterly, and Poiesis.