Walking Black Earth

Grayscale photo of soil cracks

for Alvin Greenfield

We’ll begin with materials unknown
for rebuilding, and fail at trying
to file the fire like a death certificate
in our brains, burned around the edges.

I heard a woman say she fold clothes
to settle headstrong debris
and another who takes blue green algae
and pictures Lake Klamath where it proliferated,
as smoke rolls out over the Pacific.

Once there were lion cubs that hid behind
a moon like boulder on my friend’s land.
By the time the lightning fire hit the ridge,
they had become teenagers and ran away.

But it’s the house he built as a sanctuary
with hands of a healing frequency,
wood and windows that we can’t stop repeating
overcome by flame like Notre Dame.

Remember the swarm of blackbirds
In Van Gogh’s landscape, sending out warning?
He and Greenfield saw the darkening horizon,
Apparitions too large to command to stand down.
Rotation of the owl’s head then his flight from smoke.

One rogue spark and another disaster slips
through the threads of the holy shroud
we believed would protect us.
Moonrise over hell, like flesh
of papaya, deceptive beauty.

Oh kith and kin, terrestrial survivors,
You walk over black earth, looking for lost
hives and honey, ancestral photos
antler velvet sheds for soothing the burn.


By Amy Trussell

Amy Trussell’s articles have been published in Mothering Magazine, Midwifery Today, Woman Of Power, and Native Self-Sufficiency. She has authored several books including The Painted Tongue Flowers, with paintings by Krista Lynn Brown, (Devaluna Press) Ungulations, with A. di Michele, (Surreigional Press,) and Physical Address, (PiIlow Road Press) among others. She has danced with poetry at Loyola University in New Orleans and other venues. Currently her poetry can be seen at Oyedrum.com and The Copenhagen Review.