Baby Eats Buffalo
Granddaughter, now at last you eat
Your first few bites of bison meat.
You grab it greedily—like a toy.
I can but barely mask my joy.
The peppers lying on your plate,
Both red and green, must lie in wait,
And likewise must the wholesome grains,
While you hunt something from the plains
Our forebears, for five thousand years,
Devoured with their cactus spears.
Then, between those dainty thumbs
And deft forefingers, lifting crumbs—
You cram them past your pretty lips,
Assault your sippy cup with sips,
And wisely gaze at me, as though
You knew about the buffalo;
As though the meaning in this meal
Sustains the hunger pangs you feel.
Smearing and smiling, might you guess
Its specialness and sacredness?
(a traditional Papago tribe Native American Indian song, translated)
Little yellow wasp,
you throw dirt into my eye.
I don’t know what to do,
but blow a breath at you,
And hope that after four more days,
Knives in the Grass
Each morning and each evening when I pass
Upon my daily walks through street and grass,
I do not know the reason for my life
I have to find a knife.
I’ve turned the corner on Comanche’s curb
To see, embedded in the unmown herb,
A limited edition from the mint,
which offered me no hint.
The ten point buck and doe upon its shaft
Seemed as if they looked at me and laughed,
Again becoming sage in ivory mist
Because I lost the gist.
I said, bewildered by the dawning light,
“Someone has had a lively Friday night…”
Then drew it from the dew-drenched, shaded ground
So it would not be found
By children stumbling on it in their play.
Was that the reason, this specific day
I had been chosen as the lucky one?
No answer from the sun.
Or at some other time, why should I find
A throwaway, mass-market, of the kind
Construction workers use to cut a box,
Crushed among the rocks?
Perhaps the powers of the universe—
Nunnehi, angels, saints, or others worse:
A minion from the pit, an evil elf—
Are warning, “Arm yourself.”
Jennifer Reeser is the author of five books. Writer and former editor of The Paris Review, X.J. Kennedy, wrote that her first volume “ought to have been a candidate for a Pulitzer.” Her verse novel, The Lalaurie Horror, debuted as an Amazon bestseller in Epic Poetry. Her work has been anthologized by Random House and London’s Everyman’s Library, among many others. Reeser’s poems, non-fiction, and translations have appeared in Poetry, Rattle, The Hudson Review, and elsewhere. Her sixth collection, Indigenous, is forthcoming from Able Muse Press. Her website is www.jenniferreeser.com