a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Here I am it’s June loose multiple earth-toned getup but
all around me glitter, drawn eyebrows, deep V, and I
hate it—costume, I don’t know how to do it, and
I’m more empty when the world blows through
mine. 30 days of thinking about the failure
of language. To split myself into two: bi-
focal: making whole multiple objects
of attention. Am I writing if I’m online
shopping? Am I “still interested in
women” if I am dating a “man”?
Back to thinking about the failure of language.
Biradical: independent and
odd: quarry full of red lichen—no, sundew:
little mouths look like leaves, a fly
dead in the nectar. Are you a plant if you eat
meat? If you bend to sun like everyone else and also
eat meat? Taker! Who let you open the bi-
orhythm? Who let you be so multiple? Bi-
nomial: me too, I’m at once several
names: Lu, Loon, Crontigue, touch-me
-not, soon, aster, risen woman
taking off her clothes. Risen person
taking off their clothes.
What was worn: fishnets
onto water, breaking the moon into
snakes: flickers running the direction of away,
strewn to black. Naked, what am I called?
Kimmerer says ki—this maple, in spring, ki gives us
rot gone sugar. Ki—snapping turtle in the road.
Lift. Ki opens at mouth, the whole body, ki
will close on you. Open, what am I called?
In the oldest beech, ki carves a name. Ki
is walking the long dog home. All doors
open to ki. Shadows sit with
ki. Hear my name and say
who? Who heard God and
multiplied? Who is a womb? Who
bloomed bitter flowers in the sewer,
whose night is made of walnuts? Who is dark
matter. Who found their name in a plastic
calculator? A heart finally swings
open. Whose? Hear my names
and say open. Who is open as an arch
in a garden, peas climbing spine-up. Who
sweats openly on the brown grass. Who turned
the water off. Who is asking
who asked for this? Who is open enough
to know the miracle of a bee resting
on a shoulder. Who belongs to ki. Who
unlocks the ocean, whose song is
singing up the sun. Lord, open
the eyes of my name, and let me hear.
the red parade
upends you, offends
you, bends you and sends you
to a yard divided
by a river, here—
come stand awhile.
The water is not like us.
It does not raise its hand
and say, “I am the river and
the rain and the tears.
I am not the rock,
not the styrofoam cup.”
In the going of water,
a plane’s shadow
crosses a black bear nosing
a float of dead
does not think ruin
when flat cola
pools at the bank.
White legs kick up,
and the rapids keep on,
as the dam slows the water
brown, the river goes.
You could be like that.
If you cry for the walruses
spinning through air,
gone limp on cliff rocks,
you cry we did that.
You could drop a butt
in the shallows, say sorry
with dead fish eyes
and walk away.
See where that gets you.
Then come breathe with me
while the world splits
Lily Greenberg is a poet from Nashville, Tennessee living in Portland, Maine. Her work has appeared in Hobart, storySouth, Third Coast Magazine, and Hole in the Head Review, among others, and her debut collection of poems In the Shape of a Woman is forthcoming with Broadstone Books in 2022. She is a 2021 Breadloaf Scholar and the 2021 recipient of the Dick Shea Memorial Award for Poetry judged by Jennifer Militello. Lily earned her MFA at the University of New Hampshire.