By Elise Paschen Elise Paschen

Anna Kyle Brown. Osage.
1896-1921. Fairfax, Oklahoma.

Because she died where the ravine falls into water.

Because they dragged her down to the creek.

In death, she wore her blue broadcloth skirt.

Though frost blanketed the grass she cooled her feet in the spring.

Because I turned the log with my foot.

Her slippers floated downstream into the dam.

Because, after the thaw, the hunters discovered her body.

Because she lived without our mother.

Because she had inherited head rights for oil beneath the land.

She was carrying his offspring.

The sheriff disguised her death as whiskey poisoning.

Because, when he carved her body up, he saw the bullet hole in her skull.

Because, when she was murdered, the leg clutchers bloomed.

But then froze under the weight of frost.

During Xtha-cka Zhi-ga Tze-the, the Killer of the Flowers Moon.

I will wade across the river of the blackfish, the otter, the beaver.

I will climb the bank where the willow never dies.

Elise Paschen, “Wi’-gi-e” from Bestiary. Copyright © 2009 by Elise Paschen. Reprinted by permission of Red Hen Press.

Source: Bestiary (Red Hen Press, 2009)

 Elise  Paschen


Poet and editor Elise Paschen was born and raised in Chicago. She earned a BA at Harvard University, where she won the Lloyd McKim Garrison Medal and the Joan Grey Untermeyer Poetry Prize, and went on to receive a PhD in 20th century British and American Literature at Oxford University with a dissertation on the manuscripts of poet William Butler Yeats. During her time at Oxford she also co-founded Oxford Poetry.

Influenced by . . .

Continue reading this biography

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.