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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

Melanie Almeder

When I Was The Forest

(after Eckhart)



When I was the dry streambed, rock-strewn,

when I was the field tickseed and lupine-flung,

when I was muddy logans, when I was the forest, I was green’s flotilla,

shroud of cool shadow. Post-ocean, the spines of brachipods

in the ancient sleep of bedrock. I was pine hours, warbler inflected.

When I was the forest I was sap, slope, den, wind hefted, wind thinned.

When I was the forest, light thickened me. When I was

the forest, crow discourse, bat careen, horned owl nocturne. I was old news,

blossom at the root, blossoms at the tip. When I was the forest

I was din; I was mud-honeyed, bee riven, spun, begun

and begun. Burred ice, shed needles, shed skin. How my barks, bug strewn

dreamt skyward. How I was starlight’s basin.

See my bears like loved child gods? See the moose gods go lumbering?

See the sharp teeth of my fisher cats, my mink? How mid-day I am low shush,

bee hum, the mouth of, the bottom and reach of infinity and infinity undone?

Moose Hour

(in memory, John Sullivan)



To see a moose

requires off handed luck,

a patience of dawns

and dusks. It requires

keeping a distance,

a kind of respect,

the season of the logans’

long grasses thickening,

Spring’s first hatch


propelling itself

from mud to air,

awkward legged,

until it’s a kingdom of bug

swarm. Casual as a god,

one steps out

from the darkening firs,

from that low lying cool

of conifer floor.

He’s young,

his rack, stubs


of furred velvet.

He’s here for the glut

of soupy weeds.

I stay until he feeds—

and is a darker shadow

within the dark, drifting back

to the black trees.

Not all loneliness is bereft.


That night in my dream blueberries edged

the lake through which my gentle,

unhurried relatives rowed

themselves back to me.

My uncle grinned a greeting.


The song in the dream

became the lake, the reflection of each leaf,

a prophesy of flocked trees, holy particularities.


Melanie Almeder is a writer living in Maine and in the western mountains of Virginia. Her first book of poems, On Dream Street, was published by Tupelo Press, and won the editor’s award there. Her second manuscript, which has been a finalist in three book awards, is under submission. Poems from both books have been published in a range of journals including Poetry, The Seneca Review, The American Literary Review, Five Points, and 32Poems, among others. She is a professor and community arts organizer.

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