Kinsale Drake (Diné) is a poet, playwright, and performer based out of the Southwest. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, Poets.org, Best New Poets, Poetry Northwest, MTV, Teen Vogue, Time, and elsewhere. She recently graduated from Yale University, where she received the J. Edgar Meeker Prize, the Academy of American Poets College Prize, and the Young Native Playwrights Award. She is the winner of the 2022 Joy Harjo Poetry Prize.
There was a voice calling in the night from the small can
behind the glass. The receptionist noted the sound
of cicadas circling the women’s bathroom. Cylinder,
Cicada, legs moving round and round through a brass-
The moon said, Look, shiyazhí
in so many words suddenly remembered.
How to understand with so many voices
scattered to the sea? Flat glass, laser-protected
mahogany drawers. The custodian was scared
of Indian ghosts in the half-light
through the window, how the cylinders
almost looked like cedar trunks. Every night
the voice would not stop singing
as he defogged his windshield and zig-zagged home.
Shaved down to the bone
of human timbre, the pattern trickled
after him, out the front entrance.
I can’t say anything new
about her— she knows herself and the path
home— that desert emerald, eye-socket
of a sow skull. There are only one hundred
reruns in a body, the body a weapon
when it sings. To unravel, like the sun, which rotates
very slowly and spills itself along, I speak back
to the voice.
I tell her a story. Shimá,
I call her, a woman remembering her place
among the stars. The voice will never be lost
pulse against the sheaths of glass. Come home,
in our language full of light.