The Coming of the Yamnaya

EDITOR’S CHOICE AWARD


BY Linda Scheller

Before they came, we feathered
the dawn with songs for our mother
who births the world and bends to bless
her kin. The trees and streams spoke to us
and taught us how to dance. I remember how
we told the flames our dreams and oldest stories
lofted to the ancestors with every fire-tossed spark.

Now my dreams are shallow and tainted with salt.
Trapped beneath earth, the scent of my son’s skin,
the rhythm of breath from the man I chose
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////fade.

They came on horseback and killed all our children,
our elders, our men. Their chief portioned us out
like meat to his warriors. We are nothing now
but sex horses. We must bear their young,
carry their burdens, shadow their steps,
beg their mercy, dodge their fists.
None dare speak of the past.


Linda Scheller is the author of two poetry books, Fierce Light from FutureCycle Press and Wind and Children, forthcoming in 2022 from Main Street Rag Press. A widely published poet, playwright, and book reviewer, she is a founding board member of Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center. Her website is https://www.lindascheller.com/home-1.

Image Credit: “Erased Horse” by Lex Lucius