I’uni Kwi Athi? Hiatho.

By Roberta Hill b. 1947 Roberta Hill
White horses, tails high, rise from the cedar.   
Smoke brings the fat crickets,
trembling breeze.
Find that holy place, a promise.
Embers glow like moon air.

I call you back from the grasses.
Wake me when sand pipers
fly. They fade,
and new sounds flutter. Cattails at sunrise.   
Hair matted by sleep.

Sun on the meadow. Grey boughs lie tangled.   
The ground I was born to
wants me to leave.
I’ve searched everywhere to tell you
my eyes are with the hazels.

Wind swells through fences, drones a flat ache for hours.
At night, music would echo   
from your womanless bedroom.   
Far down those bleaching cliffs,   
roses shed a torrent.

Will you brush my ear? An ice bear sometimes lumbers west.   
Your life still gleams, the edge melting.
I never let you know.
You showed me and how under snow and darkness,   
the grasses breathe for miles.

FOOTNOTES: I’uni kwi athi? hiatho - father’s name. He never told us what it meant.

Roberta Hill Whiteman, “I’uni Kwi Athi? Hiatho” from Star Quilt. Copyright © 1984 by Roberta Hill Whiteman. Used by permission of Holy Cow! Press, www.holycowpress.org.

Source: Star Quilt (Holy Cow! Press, 1984)

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Poet Roberta Hill b. 1947

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Pets, Living, Summer, Landscapes & Pastorals, Nature, Time & Brevity, Relationships

Poetic Terms Free Verse


Roberta Hill, a poet of Wisconsin Oneida heritage, is the author of three poetry collections: Star Quilt (1984, 1999)Philadelphia Flowers: Poems (1995), and Cicadas: New and Selected Poems (Holy Cow! Press, 2013). Her first book, Star Quilt,  juxtaposes her ancestral culture with formal approaches to verse. The poems revolve around six basic directions: north, south, east, west, skyward, and earthward. A sense of dispossession . . .

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SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Pets, Living, Summer, Landscapes & Pastorals, Nature, Time & Brevity, Relationships

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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