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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

Cynthia Anderson

Baby Boa

We chose our home in the boulders
knowing there would be snakes.
On moving day, the first appeared
in the garage, a rosy boa, under
a makeshift ramp of two boards—
clumped like a hunk of rope, sluggish.
The movers kept their distance
while I picked up the shovel.
But not to kill. The balled-up snake
rolled easily onto the blade.
It stayed still when I left it
on the slope out back, where
the sun could ease it into motion,
where the desert could witness
my intent: to let the old gods live
and learn to live among them.

Black Widow

Across uneven ground, she lays
a crazy quilt of gauze and glue—
then sits at the center, above a hole
where she can drop and hide
at the least provocation—right now,
my shadow. There she goes,
prepared to cache until worthy
prey march into her trap, fated
to join something bigger than
themselves. She’s a solitary spinner
whose net will break before sunset,
and who will make another—
who won’t give up unless struck
by praying mantis or wolf spider or
alligator lizard, the few who tolerate
her poison. I won’t disturb a life
that’s not mine to imagine.


Cynthia Anderson has published 12 poetry collections, most recently Arrival (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2023) and Full Circle (Cholla Needles Press, 2022). Her poems appear frequently in journals and anthologies, and her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Cynthia is co-editor of the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens. She has lived in California for over 40 years.

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