a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
I don’t have much time.
The rest have gone ahead to the stop place, some of them covered with flying bits of color and surrounded by cheers. Their runnerswith are smiling as they’re hugged and raised in the air.
One of the two-legged walks toward me, his face cold and sad. He carries a bag that will force my final sleep.
I was not ready for the race, and I knew it. I needed to rest, to take time out so my legs could be firm and strong with each bolt forward.
My runnerwith knew. He could feel my hesitation and unease. He sighed as he repeatedly gave me the usual signals to make me fly.
And fly we did, as we always do, transformed from a six-legged creature to a single block of energy flying across the track.
But I was weak. And the track was slippery from the rains.
All of a sudden I slid. I couldn’t regain my balance and I fell. I instantly knew I was hurt.
They can’t fix us when this happens. It’s too hard, they say.
I knew about it. We have all sensed it. It’s usually when the crowds have gone or quieted, and the rest of us are led back to the holding where we can’t see.
And sometimes it’s right there, with the crowd roaring.
The two-legged comes with their sticks they poke in us. The first one like a bad sting. Then the one that ends us.
They love our fearless movement, our gliding through the air. They love it when we get there first and loud cheers echo all over.
But when we slip and fall and can’t go on, we are dismissed.
They report that we have died, as though we have fallen ill from some disease, but no.
They end us.
I don’t have much time.
Mariana Mcdonald is a poet, writer, scientist, and activist who was born a human on planet earth. Her literary work has appeared in numerous publications, including poetry in Crab Orchard Review, Lunch Ticket, and The New Verse News, and fiction in About Place Journal, So to Speak, and Cobalt, where she was a finalist for the Zora Neale Hurston Fiction Prize. She co-authored with Margaret Randall Dominga Rescues the Flag/Dominga rescata la bandera, about Black Puerto Rican heroine Dominga de la Cruz. Mcdonald became a fellow of Georgia’s Hambidge Arts Center in 2012. She trained with Al Gore in 2019 and joined the international Climate Reality Leadership Corps. Mcdonald was named a Black Earth Institute Scholar and Fellow for 2022-2025. She lives in Atlanta.