A Poem by Kinsale Drake

Kinsale Drake

Kinsale Drake

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 NorthwestMTV, 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.


Wax Cylinder

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-
colored mouth.

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
          while constellations
pulse against the sheaths of glass. Come home,
in our language full of light.