Antoinette Claypoole
Skinwalker


1.

sara mclaughlin sings about being brought to her knees
being pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
and a dark cold hotel room.

may you find some comfort here. she sings this as the story
you need to hear strangles my fingers. creates a crave of drink
of johnny walker amaretto or even just a heineken.

about two weeks ago this man came into my cybered home
talking wounded knee american indian movement zone a footsoldier
once a collision of time twisted synchronicity and there is no zoom lens

in any of this. he talked to me of medicine and dream lodge
desert scenes where skinwalker took a family leaving only daughters
and i of early morning heavy breathing inside a dying phone line

empty bed rooms fill my words. memory smoothes rustled sheets and i touch
the hem of a heart. like that. with flesh relieved to feel. there is much more
reminiscing about this man's dj days my old ways of many lovers. under cover he is

for a murder committed 24 years ago this month. the exact date is vague and
lives inside his brother who in a drunken slur confesses the brutal act of rape.
does a man making love to you and watching you get slain. does that man plague

my mind. yes. and there are only so many ways to say this. kids packed supplies
lugging an automatic on their backs at seventeen into wounded knee. south dakota
almost shooting a guy for carrying a change of clothes and no food for the women

digging bunkers. the strangers are all this. and i touch the hem of hearts with longing
some whisper of standing in the back row of a poetry reading watching the curve
of my shoulder. the scent of my words. the familiar touch of my pain. call me song

weaver. say intoxicating. your words are. to me some say these things.

2.

everyday for two weeks. a random stranger takes his son to work, wakes late to write
a note about the last time he wore long hair, of avenging his sister's murder.

tells love in everything. touches the hem of hearts, and disappears exactly the way
he came. carrying fire through eyes i climb mountains but cannot find his tears.


3.

ride hand woven blanket on appaloosa. not quite snow
even though you have never seen the sound of anger. soothed
and have never touched a mouth. as wind

heard a voice though you have never felt peppered breath
on the quiet of my neck, madrone of summer harvest
warmed you. though i have never been your winter. ravished

braiding your hair when it was long and you were little one.
collecting sage and cedar for prayer time when we were very old.
read stories from a book i have not yet written. cook stew, love

in my fingers, seasons placed to the flesh of broth. knowing when you eat
the buck who gave himself is as old ones ceremony. inside all
these things today. the boy in the man is not here. and i cried

as orphaned girl no daddy who knows and loves her deep enough to keep
her. as deserted red earth before the massacre. as dry earth in rain
you take tears in another tongue warriors of black hills still. comfort.

there are no words in this language. no sounds which tell of how
we have all come in the beauty way. teaching a tenderness in flight.