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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

Susan Terris

Susan Terris
Twelve Dreams of the Lake

I saw an eagle, its scissor-beak trying to tear
a hole in the sky.
Over the dam by the sand bar, I saw sunfish
spill like golden coins.
I saw a campfire on the sand, logs stacked like
a small house and, within, sticks of a tipi,
and, within that, the hot heart of flame
flaring to rival the sunset.
At the edge of the water, I saw a brown bear
with her cub. A raccoon left a washed fish
for them.
I saw an owl strike beneath a tree and dismember
a skunk with young in her womb.
I saw the shadows of men rise up from the water
and creep silently toward the cabin.
I saw a deer with his antlers bearing another
pair of antlers. And there was blood.
Quartz and jasper and twisted snail shells churned
in evening’s rough water. And the sun
fell from the sky to set the choppy lake on fire.
I saw the men from the water slink out of
the cabin bearing copper and quilts and quarts
of spirit until there was nothing left inside.
As I watched, the cabin creaked and cried
and pointed its sharp stakes at the men, the fire,
the animals and birds of prey.
I saw children, brown-flecked from the sun,
bathed in last light, pick berries and milkweed pods
as they sang in mad and giddy tones.
I saw the men slip back to the burning lake,
their booty on their shoulders. They were too fast
for the children and sow-bear, yet too
slow to escape the rapacious beak of the eagle.
–after “The Twelve Dreams of King Sakis” Anonymous, translated by Charles Simic from Serbo-Croatian

Susan Terris’ book Ghost of Yesterday, New and Selected Poems was published in 2013 by Marsh Hawk Press. Ms. Terris is the author of six full-length books of poetry, fourteen chapbooks, and three artists’ books. Journal publications include: The Southern Review, FIELD, and Ploughshares. She had a poem from FIELD in Pushcart Prize XXXI. She’s editor of Spillway Magazine and a poetry editor for Pedestal Magazine and In Posse Review.


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