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October 2016, vol 12 no 3

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Kory Wells

Chapter in Which the Great Nation Unsings


It’s spring, and the others aim to go west, near great blue hills they have seen from horseback. Or north, where geese this morning arrowed their one great body through shrouded sky. It’s spring, her father, the chief, two winters gone. His valiance undone not by the longtime enemy tribe but by one of his own turned staggering beast by white man’s liquid fire. Soldiers hung the young warrior and called it just. Now his spirit has settled on the land like a fog. Or a blight. It’s spring and the others abide her presence, but she cannot lift her face before them. Her people brought this curse. Alone she walks the woods. Smells the earth’s tender greenness. Stops in shadows to consider the woodfern’s coiled frond. Resurrection does not lighten her. She even tries calling to the white man’s god: raise-up-from-the-dead-one, I love you, but her throat is like a stone. She knows no word for orphan. For orphan of a nation. It’s spring and the trumpet plant does not yet bloom.

once butterflies
her hands the claws of bear
earth-torn poisonous root


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