Henry Heavyshield / Two Poems

From Issue 4.2 (Spring 2024): IT IS WHAT IT IS

a song for turnip hunting

tonight i dream
i am the great turnip in the sky. 
beside your partner,
morning star,
i watch you
wave your isstawaatanako’p (digging stick) 
against the sun,
against the moon, 
& finally
towards me.

dig me slowly & see. 
break the topsoil
& enter through grassroots. 
the land hides me. the land
protects me. peel back her sun- 
bleached scalp rustling
in the wind. she is my
home & she is
the colour of muddy wine.

scrape the clay from my ribs 
& brush the sand
from my hips. feel the dirt 
beneath your charcoal 
fingernails, slivers
of ochre from my 
endless granular vault.

electricity & tremors 
through your arms, near
enough to measure my pulse.

my umbilical 
taproot connects
me to where it is dark & 
cold. sever this union 
while the faithful cranes 
watch idly. find your way 
home and release me.

my hunter. my deliverer. they 
will tell stories of your
fall. they will sing songs 
of my harvest. dig me 
slowly & as you drop 
from the hole
in the sky see how i
fit in your palm,
how I fit in your chest.

measured breaths, plummeting, 
your belly
murmurations and the grey- 
blurred flapping
of desperate wings.

don't be afraid. descend, 
descend, then wash my 
corpse & place me among 
your sky prairie yield, 
among the bitter roots, 
among the sweet
berries & here my violet flowers 
will leech & bloom again.

a broken promise to morning 
star. the prickle of
chilled earth under
your son's infant palms.

witness the boy shape-shift. 
he will rise & join
the above-world, the star 
people, taking his place 
as fixed star in
my hole in the sky.

mourn him, celebrate
his light. beneath the bison 
robe where he touched 
ground you will find a puff- 
ball mushroom, glowing & 
constant, for us
to remember:

                                                he sings

                                                                           he breathes

                                                                                                       he lives

indigenize it *

bead it, braid it / quill it, cure it / weave it, write it / sing it, sew it / dry it, dream it / play it, paint it /
trill it, try it / coup it, cook it / hunt it, hew it / grind it, grow it / jig it, drum it / will it, whoop
it / knit it, knap it / flint it, fly it / tuft it, tell it /

indigenize it (x2)

  smudge it, stitch it / smoke it, scrape it / fry it, feed it / pick it, pray it / break it, brand it / adze it, awl it / 
mold it, mark it / dress it, dance it / build it, brew it / carve it, craft it / hook it, haul it / throw it, thatch it
                                                                                                                                                              / scalp it, snare it /

indigenize it (x2)

* after Daft Punk‟s “Technologic”

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