I’m the dark water salmon, leaping
from the red-fleshed net of ancient dreams.
I’m the spotted trout,
the spaces between falling water.
I’m the oily beach, the ragged wing of gull and tern,
the dead eye of the river.
I’m the stinking rain in your palm.
I’m the rough-barked tamarack,
the long-leafed willow.
I’m the animal without a face.
I’m the deep-shadowed bear,
the windy-haired child.
I’m the crooked bones with eyes.
I’m the bandy-legged woman
with the third world hunger in your city.
I’m the tall, loose-limbed woman,
I’m the heron with tasseled reeds for bones.
I’m the mud-red salamander,
the small bird of the moon.
I’m the one living under the bridge
of your fairy tale. I’m the warty frog of your tongue.
I’m the gray air of your love songs.
I’m the pitted-skin man at the end of the smokestack.
I’m the hill-breasted woman.
I’m the whitetail deer with a song of cedar
curdled by the parasites in my throat.
I’m the snake that rides wild horses.
I’m the hot-scented fox, the girl with blue sky
charms on her wrist and sunflowers in her hair.
I’m the baby sleeping under the mountain ash.
I’m the hunter polishing his gun,
the boy dancing in his baggy pants and semi-shaved head.
I’m the porcupine your mother warned you about,
the one with switchblade smiles and orange teeth.
I’m the bad-assed coyote sniffing at your sister.
I’m the wild butterflies in your lover’s hands.
I’m the salmon he brings to you as a gift.
I’m the basket of sun she gives you one rainy day.
I’m the gangly bachelor button thriving in the ditch,
the summer ending like a long sleep in a slow swinging hammock.
I’m the land that was created from mud and put on turtle’s back,
that fell from the sky, that was thrust from the roots,
that was the heart of an Indian. I’m the song
that will never be finished.