TRANSFORMATION

There are mornings
when I feel a nonspecific 

loneliness

sitting soft and heavy in my bones,
hushing my surroundings
with the weight of estuary silt
and the stillness of salt.

I’d prefer the companionship
of my other forms, my animal selves,
the ones I could speak into being
if I was nimble as an ancestor.


I can’t call that power down –  
nor can I sit 
with the silence 
of my only self.


I imagine the stubble
of pinfeathers,
the different arc
of my bones
if they bent to the posture
of a carnivore.


I grieve for the lost bodies,
the self
that is singular,
that can never become the community
that one ancestor might have embodied —

that can never transform.


But then there is my grandmother,
with her strong hands 
and their sedge-root veins
that have skinned hundreds,
thousands of ducks 
and geese in her lifetime —


When she sends me her ducks now to prepare,


with patience and a little grace from the birds
my hands no longer cramp
as I slip the skin and feathers 
away from the meat;



the steam from their guts
in the cool air 
makes it easy to imagine 

the truth

of how my ancestors transformed —


less an act of becoming
and more an act of believing,

slipping out of our
selves

and into ourselves –


an act
sharp and sweet
as the smell of blood
and half-digested grass.


I understand 
that the heart is where you hold your power
and the hands are where you hold your
sacredness,

and with wild meat on your tongue
you might even remember
the animals you become in your dreams.


And the tangle of veins in my hands that slip
between the fat and the meat,
between the copper and the sweetness,
must match the tangle of roots
in an estuary somewhere.


If I carry a likeness
of some small part of the homeland
in my body,

then I hold the possibility
that the imprint of each wolf
or bird
or small, careful creature
that walks across it
may be written on my heart. 


And that is enough.

 

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