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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

Catherine Jagoe

Acorn Weevil  

high on the Tree: your mother, freshly
fucked, strokes a young green acorn with her dowsing-
rod antennae, seeming absent-minded, divines the precise spot, saws
a pinhead circle through the pericarp with the blades on the tip of her ex-
quisitely curved rostrum to quaff the kernel’s rich oil, then drills deep, steady
and deep, reaching up to her hilt into its oaken heart. Turning, she posts a
pearled egg down the shaft, plugs it with dung to disguise it. Oh to be
bounded in a nutshell, your orb your ark your abbey, feasting on the
fruit of the Tree, the nut your nursery and you curled creamy nestled
nuzzling gnawing. Your darksecret love ecstatic. Come Fall the acorn,
your larder-fortress, falls. Together, you never fall far from the Tree.
Percussion of impact your cue to chew a hatch out of the hold, then
wriggle struggle your pillowy amplitude effortfully through—you
have ballooned after all that eating—tumble onto oakleaf duff and
grub down into soil at the Tree’s roots to drowse, dream, dissolve
and recast yourself for years—one, two, five—till one warm
day you stir, clamber out, lift your unused elytra, unfold
your long tulle wings, still creased with newness,
and fly up to the Tree from which you
came to begin

The Cailleach at Twelve Below

In Gaelic mythology, the Cailleach

is the crone-goddess of winter and wild things

All morning the Cooper’s hawk

has been slaking the hunger

that harrows her—a house finch

seized from the feeder.


All morning hunched at her

work under the arborvitae

she takes her sweet

time to gralloch him,


too small but all she could cull.

She wields her billhook

plucking, rending, tugging,

prying tendon from bone,


the frigid yard devoid

of birds save one mourning

dove, watching, knowing

he’s safe while she


unseams her pinioned

prey and loots its rubies,

pecks the tongue from the slack

beak, then the soft dull eye-


berries, splits the wish-

bone, yanks back the matchstick

rack, the treasure-chest

lid of the numbles—


heart, spleen, crop still full

of sunflower seed, gizzard,

kidney, liver, lights,

the pinworm roil of guts—


leaving, when she leaves,

just a rickle of feathers,

not even a trace

of blood on the snow.


Blinded Sphinx Moth Caterpillar,

Paonia excaecata



One day I will fly by night,

hornworm turned


Believe it. But

I was never blind—

you got that wrong.

No one put out my eyes.

I’ve twelve of them. All

I need to see is light and how

it changes. Horned though

I am, I’m innocent

as a unicorn. Soft. Green.

Voracious. Five, six

times I’ll eat enough

to split my skin and crawl

out larger, hungrier.

Be fooled. Be fearful

of me, take my fierce-

looking rear for front.

I am insatiable because

one day I’ll have

no mouth at all.


Catherine Jagoe is a translator, essayist and poet who has published seven books of poetry, fiction and literary criticism. Her nonfiction received a 2016 Pushcart Prize and a Notable Essay citation in the 2019 Best American Essays, and has appeared in Fourth Genre, Water~Stone Review, Under the Sun, Ninth Letter, TriQuarterly, Flyway and Gettysburg Review among other journals. Her debut poetry book Bloodroot won the 2016 Settlement House American Poetry Prize and the Council for Wisconsin Writers’ Edna Meudt award. She is a contributor to Wisconsin Public Radio’s Wisconsin Life audio essay series.

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