Child Born of Water
This is how I pleasure him, Father.
Hands on neck,
Blister. I bend
I bend again, reach back;
a god on knees.
down pour on canyon wall.
We husk apart, machine pollen
Father, I’ve been afraid
of this lightning— the boy
has me oceaned.
One Night Stand
Find heft in these hotel sheets corrupt from knuckles to tongue
pale boy conquer this run this skin beneath yours rub against this
abdomen this forearm this soft cotton scatter my vertebrae sift
through my pores like corn kernels
Feel my body like an unattended blackness a portal a kept sake
not meant for keeping settle me remove the pillows and rupture me
I feel a lack of breath a tightness my great grandmother felt submerged
waist-deep in river running from soldiers
Kneel like you would a shadow an aching spine note the territory
of blood of hair pale boy drink up the dark beer to soothe the venom white
of your throat become mine blossom through ride the mantle
of my pelvis uptake the conquering feel it in your belly
Do not pardon the vanquish the settling heave over the whirlpool
at the bottom of the sink shelter your ribs think of the shower
the next morning a cold vessel to clean the sweat soak small repayment
for pox blankets in a prairie winter
From Under His Cover
I tell them at noon in a damp hooghan. The sun whispers
in from the eastern door. My father keeps low in prayer.
Tobacco too vibrant in my teeth. The peyote root
hangs too heavy to stomach. The ground unsmooths
beneath me and I feel the confession swell like bile.
My older sister cries with me. I still smell the stove coffee
and dawn rain. My mother digs cold into the sand. Smoke
curls between my lips as I shudder through dry heaves.
Words come, searing my tongue. I tell them I’ve kissed
boys. I tell them about my boyfriend and how he’s Arizona,
Tsé Nitsaa Deez’áhí. His clan is Coyote Pass, born for Zuni
People, from Under His Cover and Black Sheep. He holds
his hair like Born of Water. I tell them about his singing
and how he ate dinner with us during the Navajo Fair.
My brother places his arm around my shoulder. “It means
you’re holy,” my aunt weeps. “It means you’re holy.”
My father hands me an eagle feather, puffy at the plume.
“For protection,” he hymns. The smell of ceremony
in my hair will never truly leave. I tell them at noon in a damp
hooghan. I tell them I am able to love without them.
Jake Skeets is Diné from the Navajo Nation. He holds two undergraduate degrees from the University of New Mexico. His poems have appeared in Red Ink Magazine and Teenage Sewage. Currently, he is pursuing an MFA in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Skeets was the 2014 Native Writer Award recipient for the Taos Summer Writers’ Conference. Selected by Oliver de la Paz.
Image © Julia Lu via Flickr Creative Commons.