by Layli Long Soldier


Where we lift the wire loop from a pole top & lay 
the gate down to grass Where fingers intertwine in
vined weeds & uproot around pinwheels small flags 
ceramic trinkets Where I am seized by gold and black
quiet Where my chest Where we stand my sister my
daughter & I to the horizon such different faces Where
the sunset strides across grey to pink Where a chill
autumn bell rings my every bone porous Where
Shadow jumps trashcans & smiles Where his mauled
head scabs over Where we plan tomorrow meat carrots
potatoes a mammoth pot boled over fire Where she
fries 80 pieces of bread hot on paper towels in a plastic
bin Where we ladle & serve Where I pray & I ask & drive
away straddling mud ruts Where a shiver goes through
I say Gaka is that you Where my stomach strangles me
only coffee today Where childbirth is sometimes natural
we flinch at those memories Where buffalo goulash on
Styrofoam it is special Where Auntie cries & pulls tissue
from an XL jacket pocket Where death is living Where
we should not argue over a body Where my eyes my
shoulders Where a woman is a winyan before bulls on
the hilltop Where grass should be mowed by the rattlers
beneath Where cousin’s head has turned grey Where
I text her the news she says I already heard from
sister Where at last the cricket songs begin invisible
below the window screen Where they sway my daughter
into pillow Where court papers do not save a thing
traditional Where great-great-grandchildren emerge
toddle & beckon within one woman’s lifetime Where
the page & I live together & I love the page the most
Where I must question the place of any author


Layli Long Soldier holds a BFA in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA from Bard College. She resides in Tsaile, AZ on the Navajo Nation and is an English faculty member at Diné College. She has served as a contributing editor to Drunken Boat. Her poems and critical work have appeared in The American Poet, The American Reader, The Kenyon Review Online, American Indian Journal of Culture and Research, PEN America, The Brooklyn Rail, Eleven Eleven, and Mud City, among others. She is a recipient of the 2015 NACF National Artist Fellowship. Her first chapbook of poetry is titled, Chromosomory (Q Ave Press, 2010) and forthcoming manuscript is titled WHEREAS (Graywolf Press, 2017).

Return to Syphon 3.3