Vail Her Stallion; Round Our Wrists

Tacey Atsitty

Vail Her Stallion

When shoes no longer lace the pond-line,
we stamp leaves to cover or push summer

where rain scarcely pools to wrap children.
Homemade ice cream melted on my tongue

the other night, when I choked on the menthol.
“Stay away from there; the Brownhat girl, she drowned

in there,” my uncle told me. “A stallion, too.” Weeds
wind with wave and current; they wrap your ankles

in a deep tunnel of—just keep you berserk
in the hole where she was found bobbing, caught up,

clouds drifting from her eyes. Stallion, all black shine:
he must’ve shone like water as the wind veiled him, mane

and all. I imagine the hole like mint ice cream
or milkweed when it beads out at the throat.

In the mountains, I gathered mint to boil for jars of jelly.
I gifted to each family member one. “Is this from—”

they would ask, and upon twisting off
the lid, they’d close it up tight. The sharpness

cracked their lips, as they recalled her mane
gone trepid in the tug and snap of vines.

Round Our Wrists

for First Man

We swing like shawls about the shoulders of brides,
spread open in a field of snow. Though it’s just yet fall,
leaves bob red, foretell the absence of voice at eventide.
Once we sat in the current of a longhouse, lolled
in memory of a stew that warmed an ice monster. I raked
the story for your elbow and warmth: a message so petty.
Answer: I missed you when you left to carve a snow-snake
tunnel. Upon throwing, my tendon caught in the eddy
of creation. I could no longer lift logs to stack,
this was love in the saying: I could only follow your collar
in snow so far. (Bark I braided round our wrists round back).
One of these days you will find me under the white—
where autumn floats, rounding out the soles
of our feet, where the arcs of our breaths hold.

*Italicized line adapted from Denis Johnson’s “The Boarding”

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