Mapping out territory
my older cousin
in the scrub brush behind our granny’s house
locked in a dog crate, five years old,
Nine years ago, I taught her oldest child
how to write her name
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In Westport the small French cart
of the voyageurs earned the name mule-killer.
Once Shawnee was the lingua franca
up and down the Mississippi,
then mollassi became molasses.
For the bringing of the horse
it is said much can be forgiven: burn
of Missouri whiskey and aching molars,
lunatic fevers of cholera,
even those men
born astride. Rare beast to share
that weight on such fine and slender legs.
Laura Da’ is the author of Instruments of the True Measure, which is forthcoming from the University of Arizona Press in 2018, and Tributaries (University of Arizona Press, 2015). She lives near Seattle, Washington.