Redefining north.

Self-Portrait as Collected Bones [Rejoice, Rejoice] by Michael Wasson


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Self-Portrait as Collected Bones [Rejoice, Rejoice]

after Paris auction of indigenous human remains & objects.

For there’s a polished-bright medal
of honor hanging in my chest like another
man’s stilled heart: for my body
lies here waiting for you in fields
broken by hands the same shapes as
howitzer blasts: for I am
learning to stand up again
with only cleaned bones: singing rejoice
rejoice are the quieted ribcages of our beloved
nation: for the massacre is only
a series of colorless photographs, archives
of snow & nothing else: mother, tell me
what you remember of another man’s hand
reaching into your throat
like a night-frozen glove: how warm
was it? Was it him with the words
of a god beaded over his lips like sweat? For
the wounded is someone touched
& entered with the weapon we shape
into fingerprints: no matter how wrecked
or soft: we return to the field
wrapped in this one name
of god: rejoice rejoice, say the hand-
bones that want the heft of memory:
for I am a decade: a century
of openmouthed thirst
even as the snow keeps falling—
& falling through:

Michael Wasson's poems appear in American Poets, Narrative, Denver Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, and Bettering American Poetry. He is nimíipuu from the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho and lives abroad.

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