north america abstracted

Anna Girgenti

          Backwater:

part of the river untouched by the current,

 

stagnant as

my Alaskan summer, or a body

          not dead, afloat.

 

If I were a fish, I’d die soon,

the way I refuse to move, glued to a

blue wall. But

 

          ate ikwe¹ always something grows

 

in fallen tree trunk, fertile and hollow;

in half-sunk ship;

in my silver pregnant mother face-up

in a bathtub.

 

At night I feel the build-up of stones in my throat.

The white men upstream call this January,

          do you feel lonely?

If I were a width, I’d be bomb shelter,

six-inch plywood on the edge of rose-tint

salmon eggs hatch in the palm of my

tongue like beads of ice they

spin into the stream

          I feel a cold front coming

          but not for now, for now

 

is wet pelt and ripple.

No give, no sound but the quake

of gunshot and a language dying

 

          do you feel empty?

and on the bank a split char,

a woman without her womb.

¹Translated to English from Ojibwa, ate ikwe means in woman