a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
The month of March collapses
into a single yawning day,
the hours drifting into each other
like dawn into the dusk.
Who can remember when we first
learned the ailing world would seep
under our doors, into our bodies?
We stay at home, walk in woods,
neighbors nod, a beaver thrills,
a springtime swan sails without a mate.
I dress in black beneath my stay-home clothes.
The numbers rise. Hundreds of thousands sick,
tens of thousands dead. How long?
April. Time contracts, settles.
Hours tumble into routine.
I am making masks. In my left eye
you will see blood, and my smile
now can’t conceal my tears.
Silent, masked, we glide
down the arrowed aisles,
vacant spaces lie between us.
The numbers rise.
How long: weeks or months?
The fickle season teases us with balmy sun,
then snows the greening garden, withers us with wind.
Yet just outside our window,
jonquils presage softer days,
chartreuse and rosy treetips promise leaves.
Our young plum tree sprouts hope
in delicate ivory blooms.
brings me out of sleep to lift the window blind
and see the rocks and sprouting flowers doused in light.
Tufts of clouds the wind has pulled apart have blown
across the indigo to shroud the dazzling brilliance
of that radiant moon. To no avail—it shines right through,
causing leafless branches to trace their fragile patterns
on the dusty pale blue puffs.
I wonder if this silver washing over me
and on my chair is at last a longed-for blessing
that I cannot comprehend. I’ll sit and let it gleam,
hoping delicate slivers will remain until the morning
so that I will still remember this poem.
President of Germany, 2020, at a remembrance of the end of World War II.
There are so many ways to love my land.
I loved it with my hand upon my heart
when bands played Bless America to start
our Homecomings, and we all had to stand.
I loved it driving through the hills and trees,
across the plains of corn and beans, the sun.
I loved the cities, with their endless hum,
and where our peoples seemed to mix with ease.
But time has compromised my youthful zeal.
The sacrifices, crimes, and willful greed
that undermine our country’s first ideals
have caused our people needlessly to bleed.
And so my broken heart leads me to kneel,
to love my land, but not forget its need.
Mary Hills Kuck has retired from teaching English and German for many years in the US and Jamaica and now lives in Massachusetts. She has received a Pushcart Prize nomination and has published in a number of journals, most recently in the Connecticut River Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Burningwood Literary Journal, From the Depths, Poetry Quarterly, as well as Slant and Main St. Rag, both forthcoming.