a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Ann DeVilbiss


Accelerated Migration

Moths flit aimless because
every bulb is bright as
a moon, tides confused
and gravity rattled.
 
My coat snags on the rose cane;
not a single bud in four years
so I cut it to the ground.
 
Bees continue their dying.
 
I gesture at the stack
of unopened letters.
 
Again the river falls to a record low,
trees along the bank twisted by thirst,
wild wire of roots gasping at air.
 
I change the bedding so
it matches the season.
 
Mud too thick for gilled fish.
 
I take the last ripe pear,
slice it with the last clean knife,
and eat it all myself.
 
Little fists clench
dirt and grass, lift
up fragments of
a patchy fleeing kingdom.
 
I give you chamomile,
bring the salt.
 
Less stars count among
this rude crowd of light.
 
Heat rages in my veins,
a permanent fever.
 
Plastic collects along chainlink,
tatting at storm’s edge.
 
I let you win this round.
 
A smear of dead mosquito
marring the dashboard,
we head north.


Grown Wild

I learn the valley as I know
my own lined palms, the grip
of vine at summer and how
it tosses in a western gale.
 
I become the dim limb gnarled
over twilit grove, my face a fake,
trick of the light. My body is
the hill’s body also, a burren
stumbled among amber grasses.
 
Stuck and safe come from
the same rooted neighborhood,
but I am too old to move on now.
 
The night in this place creeps my veins
like still waters, and I stand
on this piece of earth. When cries
rise from the far pass, I know which
voiced wind is calling, know
what kind of sacrifice to leave
so it dies back down into quiet.
 
The ancients here are a danger
I can wear as armor, let them take
the flurry of my heat and breath,
bend it into seasons, storms,
a ward against humans
and their animal violence.


Selfish

Lattice of thick vine
trying for heaven,
 
don’t think of
the hobbled oak
 
sunk beneath your
greening weight.
 
The price of feast
is famine elsewhere.
 
Steal this sun for
your wild need.
 
Hitch your reach
to sky’s clouded ladder.
 
Pull down the gods
and make them answer.

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Ann DeVilbiss has work published or forthcoming in Columbia Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Gertrude, The Maine Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, PANK, Radar, and elsewhere. She lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky.


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