Layli Long Soldier received a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA from Bard College. She is the author of WHEREAS (Graywolf Press, 2017), which won the 2018 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award and was short-listed for the National Book Award. Long Soldier has received a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a National Artist Fellowship from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, and a Whiting Writers’ Award. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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Ȟe Sápa, Five
Inside the wheels of wrists and hands, a white shore of book and shell.
I kneel in the hairline light of kitchen and home
where I remember the curt shuttle of eyes down, eyes up—
where I asked, are you looking at how I’ve become two?
This one combs and places a clip just above her temple, sweeping back the curtain of why
and how come. I kiss her head I say, maybe you already know.
Born in us, two of everything.
As in, each born to our own crown—the highest part of the natural head.
And each born to our own crown—a single power, our distinction.
But I’m dragging myself, the other me, every strand up to the surface. I remember
very little. So I plunge my ear into the hollow of a black horn, listen to it speak.
Not one word sounds as before.