The bow of a Muckleshoot canoe, blessed
with eagle feather and sprig of yellow cedar,
is launched into a bay. A girl watches
her mother fry venison slabs in a skillet—
drops of blood sizzle, evaporate. Because
a neighbor feeds them, they eat wordlessly;
the silence breaks when she occasionally
gags, reaches into her throat, pulls out hair.
Gone is the father, riled, arguing with his boss,
who drove to the shooting range after work;
gone the accountant who embezzled funds,
displayed a pickup, and proclaimed a winning
flush at the casino. You donate chicken soup
and clothes but never learn if they arrive
at the south end of the city. Your small
acts are sandpiper tracks in wet sand.
Newspapers, plastic containers, beer bottles
fill the bins along this sloping one-way street.
Added: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 / From "The Ginkgo Light," (Copper Canyon Press, 2009). Used by permission.
Arthur Szeis isthe author of nine books of poetry, including Compass Rose (2014), The Ginkgo Light (2009), Quipu (2005), The Silk Dragon: Translations from the Chinese (2001), and The Redshifting Web: Poems 1970-1998, all from Copper Canyon Press. He is also the editor of Chinese Writers on Writing (Trinity U Press, 2010). He is a professor emeritus at the Institute of American Indian Arts and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he served, from 2006-2008 as the city’s first poet laureate.