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Tacey M. Atsitty

After Hurricane Ida

We came to handle fallen trees,

their bark and branches howls now faint,

just having breathed their final swirl: 

their knotty selves ready for us

or ready for a final shaking

of life from leaf to limb; it takes

a moment, just exhale the beauty

onslaught atop the roofs above.

We awe at broken walls and trunks,

lament the way we’ve come to hold 

ourselves— like hardwood, holy and true.

In truth, they end up cracking first,

because of their inflexibility.

In truth, it’s nothing to do with height

and everything to do with earth

but mostly groundwater, the braids

of rain to river beneath this haze.

The lovely couple whose house was cleared,

they offered electricity 

and bottled water. This is why

we came: to wander floodwaters,

to find the living and the dead

among these tributaries

and taste the taste of purest storm.


Tacey M. Atsitty, Diné (Navajo), is Tsénahabiłnii (Sleep Rock People) and born for Ta'neeszahnii (Tangle People. She is a recipient of the Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship, the Corson-Browning Poetry Prize, Morning Star Creative Writing Award, and the Philip Freund Prize. She holds bachelor’s degrees from Brigham Young University and the Institute of American Indian Arts, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in POETRY, EPOCH, Kenyon Review Online, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, New Poets of Native Nations,and other publications. Her first book is Rain Scald (University of New Mexico Press, 2018).

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