FASHION ADVICE FOR ETERNITY

Leave that Tiffany bling. It’s a pile of cold cash.
Facile, faceted carbon copies.
Give us jewelry or give us death.
The Seven Cities of Cíbola, a Spanish fantasy,
led to ruined pueblos, disease, yes, death.
But here’s what the A:shiwi do:
The Zuni jeweler takes a fingertip of shards
from a surgeon’s tray of stars
and sets a miniature Thunderbird, Kachina dancer,
Knifewing, Roadrunner, face of the sun
in spiny oyster, abalone, turquoise, onyx night
ringed by silver kicked from a horse’s hoof
on your finger, by your breastbone, at your ear.
 
 
To Kateri Tekakwitha of the Kanien’kehá:ka
(from a settler poet baptized with her name)

“Lily of the Mohawks.” A bed of thorns for Kateri.
Otsi’tsa – flower; Otsi’tsa’shon:’a – flowers. Small-pox survivor, Kateri.

Cohen’s Beautiful Losers, mass cards, prayer cards, medallions,
wax effigies, stone statues claimed your image, Kateri.

The “Highway of Tears” is a continent-wide slash.
The missing women, never found…Where to leave flowers, Kateri?

The thistle, shamrock, rose, the dagger-petalled fleur-de-lis.
“To plant lilies on the graves of the Iroquois,” wrote the governor, Kateri.

My mother’s covenant: “If my sister lives, I’ll name a daughter ‘Kateri.’”
I’ve seen your tomb, a block of snow, a press of lilies, Kateri.

Is this ghazal a rosary, a siren’s wail, a Karen:in?
We left the church, my parents and I – I grieve its harm, Saint Kateri.

Kateri Tekakwitha, I spell your name into the world
with awkward love. My years’-long wish: To hear your story, Kateri.

 

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