[What land have you cast from the blotted-out region of your face?]

By Sherwin Bitsui b. 1975 Sherwin Bitsui
What land have you cast from the blotted-out region of your face?

What nation stung by watermarks was filmed out of extinction and brought forth resembling frost?

What offspring must jump through the eye of birth to be winked at when covered with brick sweat?

What ache piled its planks on the corner pier, now crumbles onto motionless water, sniffed at by forest smoke?

What makes this song a string of beads seized by cement cracks when the camera climbs through the basement window—winter clouds coiling through its speckled lens?

What season cannot locate an eye in the dark of the sound of the sun gyrating into red ocher after I thought you noticed my language was half wren, half pigeon and, together, we spoke a wing pattern on the wall that was raised to keep “us” out, there where “calling” became “culling,” “distance” distanced, in a mere scrape of enamel on yellow teeth?

What father woke, turned over his wife, she didn
t want to, but he pushed until the baby leapt through, now, now, now, strummed into a chorus of burn marks on ceilings where police sirens fruit magpie skulls on trees of monsoon lightning?

What, what, what—is how that song chimed in wilderness.

Sherwin Bitsui, “[What land have you cast from the blotted out region of your face?]” from Flood Song. Copyright © 2009 by Sherwin Bitsui. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Source: Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press, 2009)

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Poet Sherwin Bitsui b. 1975

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Nature, Animals, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

 Sherwin  Bitsui

Biography

Sherwin Bitsui, a Diné (Navajo) from the Navajo Reservation in White Cone, Arizona, received an AFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts Creative Writing Program. He is the author of the poetry collections Shapeshift (2003) and Flood Song (2009).
 
Steeped in Native American culture, mythology, and history, Bitsui’s poems reveal the tensions in the intersection of Native American and contemporary urban culture. His poems . . .

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SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Nature, Animals, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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