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River Offering

     Tacey M. Atsitty


It was the year my brother asked me if I could keep a secret and promise not to tell. I gravely offered him my pinky, and then after finding out that he had found several hundred dollars in the pencil sharpener, you know the old kind mounted to a wall, I took the money straight to my dad. My brother never trusted me again after that. He must’ve been 5. It had been rent money from one of my dad’s tenants. I’m not sure why he had thought to hide the money there, but it turned out that he had forgotten all about it. I’ll never forget the one time when we went down to play at the river with the neighbor kids and their older brother swam over to me and asked point blank if I wanted to have sex. I was 7 maybe. He was at least 15. I had heard the word before and knew it had something to do with kissing and fluids, but I played coy. What’s that? I scrunched my face in confusion for good measure as I stepped out of the river, before calling for my little brother and sister, and climbing the hill to run home.

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).


She is the director of the Navajo Film Festival, poetry judge for the Eggtooth Editions Chapbook Contest, a member of Advisory Council for BYU’s Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, a member of the board for Lightscatter Press and founding member for the Intermountain All-Women Hoop Dance Competition at This is the Place Heritage Park.


She is a PhD student at Florida State University and lives in Tallahassee with her husband.

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