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  • Forcing His Body to the Water
  • Erika T. Wurth (bio)


Lining your arms thunderbolt and swallow tattoos / the signs / on your door Freedom Respect It Protect It The Right to Bear Arms / your beard / your wide blue eyes. Generations of your family saying no to Monsanto like the years saying no to the pipeline / not useless exactly / but sad.

This is why I wanted to start at the beginning / yours and mine / though you are sixty-two and I forty-one / you a libertarian who'd made it his mission to plant a thousand shining green trees / across the shining green land / beige now / as we drive and reverse and almost get stuck in the mud.

It began on the phone and ended in your kitchen / stories about your life / something grown from seven generations in the wide yellow rows of corn / my microphone attentive / to the pauses / in between / your breath.

This is like a poem, you see / see / because that's how it started / with poems.

After the car got unstuck from that rich black mud, the kind of mud I've learned after twelve years in the Midwest / is a silent miracle / we stopped at the rusty red chair that was a warning / a single bullet hole in the back / the kind of quiet thing that a corporation does / to show you who is boss and who is just another sack of meat / in the way / of progress.

You're still for a minute / and then we walk / the white sweater my boyfriend bought me for Christmas catching on every tree / we stop. You point to the rock garden for lost children / like mine.

That's the thing about objective journalism / you're not really supposed to talk about these moments, the ones that count / the ones that make you want to do anything like this / in the first place. [End Page 70]

In your kitchen / that tiny kitchen with the same coffee from ALDI that I buy, you brew it for me because this life I'm leading / is always making me tired. You laugh / and I do too / and you talk about your chickens / your motorcycle / your parents / you tell me everything about your life because like me / you are not ashamed.

I've known that from the beginning of this / since we'd first talked on the phone that you are going to make me feel / everything / again.

Your children's children are everywhere / pale and strong / you planted these trees for them. That's why when the cops show up at your door and your nephew is terrified and crying you say my god, why would I put booby traps down, my children's children play here / they climb these trees / they walk this land.

The first time I saw you was so futuristic / on YouTube / ugh, it's silly to admit / but really this form is all about admission, confession / I've realized / I was interested in the man who had fought Energy Transfer Partners, the man who had been offered a teenage prostitute in exchange for his green farm / and there you were / a child on your hip / strong.

/ See / how this is like a poem? Because this is the only way / to talk about such a thing / this violation / this taking / and I haven't begun / to talk about / Oceti Sakowin.

I want to be clear about Hughie. I talk about his strength not because he is a man / which / he is / which / he will tell you but to show you why this matters / not just to the land / but to his spirit / because they sent him letters offering him money / so much money you can't imagine and he laughed / he threw those letters away. That's when they first knocked on the door with offers of sex and more money and he told them to take off. That's when they called the cops and lied / and the cops believed them.

When Hughie began to realize that he would have to fight for what should have been his but because of money / and money in government / wasn't / he got onto social media. This / from the man...


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pp. 70-75
Launched on MUSE
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