a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Heavy-bellied, even still. And arrival, a wind-
storm between houses while we slept. We woke
to fire instead. Ambulances in the distance.
Fines for the living who break laws
by leaving & arriving nowhere. How long
will this leaving continue? Horses, slain
in the pastures. Attacked by disease & blood
-ridden water. Copper, the corpses of the trees
next to drowned children in a creek behind
their mother’s house. How did cruelty become
timeless? Light, split by the pane that holds
the world apart from us. Rain, a memory
of rain. Repeating itself. Tomorrow
will be yesterday again, our daughter
trying to free herself from me in the pitch
each night. Hefting her smallness headfirst
toward oblivion. You must know by now
that we are lost. The lake with the illusion
of control, swelling the clouds until the sky
falls to become otherwise. I want no other numbers
now: one or one million. The wretched paths
through the woods. Redbirds in the oaks.
Clouds & moon sunken below the treeline. Wolves,
starved as sky near the mountains. It is duty
that keeps us some days. Not love. Sewn
to this gender, I am impossible. Left to rain
& ruin in some territory I don’t want to call
home. Here, traitorous is the wind. Hear
it wail at the panes. Hear it wane.
to birth today, I give up
one argument for another
as finches weep among
branches outside. How is it
to bear something to its end?
The birch will bear the time
that is left after we are lost
to the world. Its root system, a prayer
against disappearance. Still, I am paper
sloughed off the tree like after
-birth. My mind, trembling
in its own shade. And you, the fog
dissipating at my fingertips.
We cannot practice desire
until the sun leans in some
days. However momentary. But,
say this warmth on our arms
is love. The earth, small
too. That we will each stand
in the shadows
of the other. Blurred
animals. Reaching beyond
what we’ve been.
Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). Her second poetry collection, Through a Small Ghost, won The Georgia Poetry Prize (University of Georgia Press, 2020). She is also the author of the chapbook What Bodies Have I Moved (Madhouse Press, 2018).