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The Blue Heron People

I send artemesia to my sister, its silver coolant
for her fever
and a winding sheet of lilac and blue flax,
whose colors wash out in the rains,
for her pain. Denim and chambray of the heron.

How do we position ourselves against
the ancestors in the blood? Change one thing
and the rest will follow.
Our voices, the American Indian writer said,
are ugly to the birds and snakes.
We should instead think our thoughts to them.

On weekends, trucks head into the mountains,
loaded with trailers and ATVs,
with their heaviness, with their violent expense.
Animals dilate, the grasses suffer.

But what is our true nature, our essential form?
At half their future height, the heron chicks
stand in their high nests, staring out
at us, at danger, from atop their twiggy necks,
not realizing how obvious they are.

We were not a pretty family. We were raw.
I send my sister the blue wheat grass, flowering
into its elegant art deco scrolls,
the shade fir trees hold, close, below their limbs.
I send her distance, the serious flight of herons:

They who have inherited the water traits. Who wade
through mint. They, who are better left alone.

Melissa Kwasny

Where Outside the Body Is the Soul Today
University of Washington Press

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