Thursday, March 26, 2009
Painting by JD Challenger
by Sherwin Bitsui
Tonight I draw a raven’s wing inside a circle
measured a half second
before it expands into a hand.
I wrap its worn grip over our feet
as we thrash against pine needles
inside the earthen pot.
He sings an elegy for handcuffs,
whispers its moment of silence
at the crunch of rush-hour traffic,
and speaks the dialect of a forklift,
lifting like cedar smoke over the mesas
acred to the furthest block.
Two headlights flare from blue dusk
--the eyes of ravens peer at
Coyote biting his tail in the forklift,
shaped like another reservation--
another cancelled check.
One finger pointed at him,
he dies like this
with emergency lights blinking though the creases
of his ribbon shirt.
A light buzzed loud and snapped above the kitchen sink.
I didn’t notice the sting of the warning:
Coyote scattering headlights instead of stars;
howling dogs silenced by the thought of the moon;
constellations rattling from the atmosphere
of the quivering gourd.
How many Indians have stepped onto train tracks,
hearing the hoofbeats of horses
in the bend above the river
rushing at them like a cluster of veins
scrawled into words on the unmade bed?
In the cave on the backside of a lie
soldiers eye the birth of a new atlas,
one more mile, they say,
one more mile.