A Lesson in Weight and Thankfulness

Moira J.

I am borne of cactus fruit and seeds
from the mesquite tree—my arms are
weatherworn and I dream of dancing,
my legs giving way to tallow and meat,
bones being worked into needles and
scrapers for flesh-ridden hides.

        I have gathered salt from the desert
        to trade for granite tips and blankets,
        I collect what I need for my hollows
        rustling like wet underthings in grass.
        Now my elbows creak from lifting
        the stars as lampposts, but I cannot
        sleep without fear of coyotes eating
        my gut, ripped and tender in soft pieces.

I protect my belly with turtle shells and pin
myself down, meadows acting as corkboard,
darkness passes over like a collector’s finger—
my spine exposed like livewires, to be touched
is to press my cheek down among stones, hoping
to be enveloped by the blood pooling around.

        I do not sleep, only watch the burned matter
        above fizzle and crisp like popped corn, fruit
        flies peck my jawbone with familiarity, skin
        is spoiled like old jam. In the mornings, I am
        sore and thankful for the ache: I cannot be
        ungrateful to those who built homes for me.

Moira J., or Gaagé Dat’éhe (Quiet Crow), is an Indigenous writer who explores being agender, queer, and biracial. They examine these relationships through poetry, origin stories, and creative nonfiction. Moira J. has been published in Girls Get Busy Zine, Naugatuck River Review, ENCLAVE, Bayou Magazine, and more. They have upcoming publications with Sea Foam Magazine, The Account, The 3288 Review, and 1001: A Literary Journal. You can keep updated on Moira J. at their website moirajwriting.tumblr.com, or on Twitter @moira__j.

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