a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
“[Louis Réard], stitching together a napkin’s worth of newsprint-patterned fabric, achieved something smaller than Heim’s Atom, which he named after the Bikini Atoll, the remote island where atoms were being split in atomic bomb tests that very week.”
Stomach like ripples downriver. A climate-warmed sea of glacier melt.
This is what happens with extremes of weight, of loss, this unzipping
of the skin like a sweater you can quit wearing, hang up for steaming,
send to the cleaners for Martinizing in a vat of chemical juice. How
very apt, then, the name for the cloth geometry that should no longer
bare my body, once voluptuous, now a mere x-ray, taken from a place
where zero would grow, the landscape exploded over and over to nuclear
snow, both polar and lunar, poor quake of dust left to collect at the ocean’s
opening, an atoll zapped uninhabitable from twenty-three weapons
tests in twelve years. Trust that leadership did as little here as
the strings that held four patches of triangles together when relocating
islanders, exhausted and acquiescent because that harsh journey had
already begun, every cell corrupted, melded, the face of a cut wheel
of cheese under flames, turned dark and sloughed off. Quashed, they chose
no oceans for themselves. Another example of angary: my gut, overzealous,
overtaken, subjected as room and board for dangerous fauna and flora
to thrive. Trussed up, I’m svelte, I’m silk. Bare, I’m a bowl of milk for
a cat to lick. Or origami: What’s left of my butt speaks the shape of jaguar,
zebra, quail. A Rorschach of species, all flight or cellulite. Post-viral, I
exhume blame for this dichotomy. I require more security from you: engineer,
Réard, trademark. O Lycra. O Spandex. Delete the bra and thong. Bandage
me up a tank, some boy shorts. Or, un-jolted by gaze, the eye’s governance,
fuck off to qualms about how to wear you. Uproot me, call me Marshallese.
Damaged backyard goods, we always know who’s welcome, and where.
Jen Karetnick (she/her) is a chronically ill, Jewish-American poet and writer who frequently interrogates issues of disability, climate, aging, and ethnicity. Her fourth full-length book is The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (David Robert Books, September 2020), an Eric Hoffer Poetry Category Finalist and a Kops-Fetherling Honorable Mention. She is also the author of Hunger Until It’s Pain (Salmon Poetry, forthcoming spring 2023) in addition to six other collections. Karetnick has won the Tiferet Writing Contest for Poetry, the Hart Crane Memorial Prize, and the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize, among others. Co-founder and managing editor of SWWIM Every Day, she has work appearing recently in Barrow Street, The Comstock Review, december, Michigan Quarterly Review, Terrain.org, and elsewhere.