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, that one--dishwasher, 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.
Poem from Shapeshift ©2003, reprinted with permission of The University of Arizona Press.