Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2015  Vol. 14 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The mind does not self-shelter,
weaponless in a ring of
coal-dark heaven housing a

box of ice, or else no one
polices the relentless
train of the summer sun, its

needling poison. Here, I
say, is progress: an end to
grief in the sightline. The storm’s

rough reel stalls at my land’s
margins; I train that wolf, wind,
to wrap around my smooth black

sky, my home’s superstructure,
with rows of trees snow-watered:
the sumac, fall-red still, flames

against juniper’s dog-strong
green, its anchor to the elms’
yellow screen. We slipped saplings

from the flood plain of the Jim
River, planted them along
our homestead lines as our soil

blew away from our land of
mammal warmth. There were also
psychological effects

of “treeless” country, which the
homesteaders found “unsettling.”
This is the time when we are

mortal and can enjoy that
pain, a field, ends—isn’t
unremitting heaven, yet.  end  

Italicized material is adapted from the Northern State University publication “Windbreaks: The New Prairie Forest” (1998).

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