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Prairie Schooner 79.4 (2005) 45-47

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Upset Woman, and: Glyphs on a Carved Rock

Upset Woman

after a drawing by Florence Napaaq Malewotuk
Napaaq drew in ink
the sure lines of anguish,
a young woman nearly naked
weeping so hard her hands
can not hide her, her hands
can not hold this grief
passed down by the mothers,
the grandmothers, the ones so old
only stories could hold them.

This woman is young, young enough
to swallow all the sadness
passed down to her, to make it [End Page 45]
her own. Her lover, a white man
with a thousand promises
in his misunderstanding advises her
and so she letters with great care
a caption in his language:

Some men hate his wife cause she love other men. That why he hate her
she crying now. She naked body. Pretty-soon love together again.

As if each tear has nothing
to do with the ocean,
with the drowned, nothing
to do with passing on
to a newborn
the names of the most recent
dead, who still walk around
to see how we are,
who listen when we cry.

Glyphs on a Carved Rock

Jumping was forbidden, so I dove.
Fell, fell, half a lifetime.

Cliffside to cenote, full twist
showing off my best sides.

Evelia's eyes cenote verde
her laugh a cascade clean and cool. [End Page 46]

Third time for sure she was watching,
third time oiled and glinting,

steel drum lucky, I lifted –
feet slipped earth and I flew

over papaya, mango, fruta de sueños.
My tongue yerba buena, buena suerte

a new reed, moistened.


      Gravity side
swiped me.

Her tongue traced the crease
of my eyelid, dreamy.

Small bones in a back.
Water I never broke.

Peggy Shumaker's newest book, Blaze, is a collaboration with the painter Kesler Woodward. It is forthcoming from Red Hen Press.



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pp. 45-47
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