IH (April 30,1989 / Virginia)

Half Of Whole

“I used to have a brother, did you know? ”
“Is that so? ”

“Yes, my first
seven years, he visited us in
Canpásapa-wi, the month when
chokecherries are ripe.

He had round resin eyes with
lids languishing like sienna cowls.
When we were kids, he’d take me
on walks to admire the forest flora.

Voice cascading like pure rain,
his lips tipping upward in kinship,
he would point ‘Look, little wren:
Canpa'hu, the bitterwood stem.’

One afternoon I found him napping
beside his favorite flowers, scattered seeds
outlining his profile, the scene seemingly
engulfed by a shrieking, dissonant peace

as my mother dropped my hand, and-and-
his grandfather lamented another
crippled limb.

11 growing seasons
stain my skin-
an astringent
chokecherry red
in my palms: the dye
will not scrub away.

The plant is not what poisoned him.

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