Jenny L. Davis

GIFTS BETWEEN GHOSTS

This is a difficult place
to hold ground.
Removals and refusals
make apparitions of those of
us living in categories reserved
for dead. But today I am real
enough to hold a gift crafted and carried
here by others made ghosts
in their own lands
to drink hot tea together and suspend
our phantom states.

BONE SONGS

Being the first Native
in this department is just
another word for only but
I am not really the first one here
these halls used to hold
my ancestors whole
but now favor cells and scrapings
horse nation
canine nation
primate nation
we are all gathered here in boxes and slides 
If I sang the bone songs
they would all sing back to me
I have lined this office with plants
books by southeastern women
Two spirit art
and ndn comics
sometimes I find the
echoes of my people here comforting
at least they tell jokes
with the same intonation
know removal cuts bone deep
the longing for home
and resistance to the
shovels and scalpels
of loneliness
I am here to call this
story
paper
lecture
into being
peel the bark from my flesh to
bite the patterns of my thoughts
weave the honeysuckle vines
so resistant to squared pages
type the beads onto cloth
in the traditional patterns of
paragraphs                   
columns
chapters
mutter prayers to do this
in a good way
a kind way
pray that no one will inspect
the back side where
the disorder of strings
betrays my shaking hands
When they sing the bone songs
I will sing back to them 

Jenny L. Davis

Jenny L. Davis (Chickasaw) is originally from Oklahoma. She is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign where she lives with her partner and spends most of her time tending her cats (and cat-sized Chihuahua), plants, and the students in her Anthropology and American Indian Studies classes. Her creative work has been published in As/Us; River, Blood, & Corn; Broadsided; and Rabbit and Rose and recently appeared in the anthology Resist Much/Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance.

Next