I’uni Kwi Athi? Hiatho.

By Roberta Hill Whiteman b. 1947
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 Whiteman 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 Whiteman, a poet of Wisconsin Oneida heritage, is the author of Star Quilt, a poetry collection which integrates her ancestral culture with European-based approaches to verse. Whiteman grew up in Wisconsin among the Oneida community and also in Green Bay; the family moved between the two locales several times. In previous centuries the Oneida were forced to make a series of moves that displaced them from their . . .

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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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