Evidence of Red

By LeAnne Howe b. 1951 LeAnne Howe
First, night opened out.
Bodies took root from rotting salt
and seawater into evidence of red life.
Relentless waves pumped tidal air
into a single heartbeat.

In the pulp of shadow and space,
water sucked our people from sleep.
That’s how it all began. At least
that’s all we can remember to tell.
It began with water and heartbeat.

In minutes we tunneled through
corn woman’s navel into tinges
of moist red men and women.
Yawning, we collected our chins,
knees, breasts, and sure-footed determination.

A few thousand years before
Moses parted the Red Sea, and the
God with three heads was born in the Middle East,
the Choctaw people danced
our homeland infra red.

Finally when the stranger’s arms
reached to strangle the West,
Grandmother eavesdropped
on the three-faced deity
who said that chaos was coming.

When he puckered his lips and tried to kiss her
she made it rain on him.
“Maybe you’ve forgotten
you were born of water and women,”
she said, walking away laughing.

LeAnne Howe, “Evidence of Red” from Evidence of Red. Copyright © 2005 by LeAnne Howe. Reprinted by permission of Salt Publishing.

Source: Evidence of Red (Salt Publishing, 2005)

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Poet LeAnne Howe b. 1951

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Mythology & Folklore

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 LeAnne  Howe

Biography

Poet, fiction writer, filmmaker, and playwright LeAnne Howe was born and raised in Oklahoma and is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. She worked as a newspaper journalist for 12 years before earning an MFA from Vermont College.
 
Howe’s lyrical poems engage Native American life. She is the author of the poetry collection Evidence of Red: Poems and Prose (2005), which won the Oklahoma Book Award.
 
Her novels include . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Mythology & Folklore

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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