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.

 

Kateri Lanthier

Kateri Lanthier's poems have appeared recently in Event, Hazlitt, The Fiddlehead and Best Canadian Poetry 2014 (Tightrope Books). She won the 2013 Walrus Poetry Prize, the Editors’ Choice in Arc’s 2016 Poem of the Year and third prize in the London, England-based 2016 Troubadour International Poetry competition. Her first book is Reporting from Night (Iguana, 2011). Her second is Siren (Signal Editions, Vehicule Press, 2017).

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