Academic journal article Chicago Review


Academic journal article Chicago Review


Article excerpt

breaks up in obelisks on the river,

as I stand beside your grave.

I tip my head back.

Above me, the same sky you loved,

that shawl of cotton wool,

frozen around the shoulders of Minnesota.

I'm cold and so far from Texas

and my father, who gave me to you.

I was twelve, a Choctaw, a burden.

A woman, my father said, raising my skirt.

Then he showed you the roll of green gingham,

stained red, that I'd tried to crush to powder

with my small hands. I close my eyes,

and it is March, 1866 again.

I'm fourteen, wearing a white smock.

I straddle the rocking horse you made for me

and stroke the black mane cut from my own hair.

Sunrise hugs you from behind,

as you walk through the open door.

You lay the velvet beside me

and I give you the ebony box

that holds the baby's skull.

You set it on your work table,

comb your pale blond hair with one hand,

then nail it shut.

The new baby starts crying. I cover my ears,

watching as you lift him from the cradle

and lay him on the pony skin rug. …

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