Akenistén:’a (Mother)

BY Diika:néhi Akwirá:’es Delaronde

I am one of my mother’s own make.
Our lips dripping with honey,
our eyes grasping the sun.
Knowing how to keep a man between my thighs, and hold his tears on my chest
from maybe too young an age.
Loving with a heart that mends as much as it aches,
there is no gold richer,
and no hunger deeper.

Our thoughts are scattered drops across the sky,
as I keep turning them over in my mind,
looking for sense in their constellations.

In our sickness, when our bodies turns to shaking stone, and paper thin reality is cut along the edge,
the lines between mother and child drip down our chins,
refusing to break ourselves into boundaries,
I find the ‘she’ in ‘me’, and the ‘old’ in the ‘new’.

Our brother Coyote, living in my throat,
speaks to me in old tongues without reservations,
without borders, without laws,
without satisfaction,
who calls home the place where he’s not alone,
who feasts on the scraps of the voices that tell him
to cross his legs, to hold his tongue, to be ashamed of his bare skin, to bask in the shadows of lesser beings and be grateful for their crooked-smile kindness.

I am one of my mother’s own skin,
of the sin of the men who leave before life begins,
afraid of what it means to open the space in their ribs
to a woman.
Afraid they condemn themselves to their own shadows they cast.
I am a child bore in my mother’s arms,
as she prayed to wash my skin free from the echoes
of a father swallowed in his shadow,
to cleanse my ears of the times she cried and times she screamed and the times she whispered,
hoping her words could build a bridge across an ocean, across a hallway,
to let the shadow of the man she let under her skin
cross over.

Though I may be the shame of my father, too heavy a love to carry,
too deep a fear to swim,
I am a mountain of all the women dancing in my blood.
An avalanche of voices that will be heard,
the carrying of a song that cannot be unsung.
I carry their breath wherever I go,
I carry their breath in mine.
No border, no law, no shadow of man
will ever our bodies confine.


Diika:néhi Akwirá:’es Delaronde is a twenty-one-year-old Two-Spirit, Kanien’kehá:ka and Tsalagi anthropologist, activist, and writer. In addition to writing poetry, they are currently in the midst of writing their first full length novel while continuing to carry out independent fieldwork in Native American language revitalization efforts. In the process of obtaining a degree in Native North American cultures and languages, they hope that their writing, be it artistic or academic, can reach across colonial borders both on the land and in the mind to connect with other Indigenous peoples and be a voice of comfort, solidarity, and power.

Image Credit: Photo by Mark Basarab on Unsplash

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