All night we sat and he told me how once his mother had ridden a mare to death. He doesn't usually do so: sit. Usually, it's just a kick in the pants and all is gone to plummet, but tonight the sky emits a loneliness that only a monster could know. In a vale of cottonwoods, he started. There was a river where my mother would sit. And she bent her back for stones that looked like half of me. I remember settling like a rock inside her belly as she rode bareback at the edge of the river, regretting how she waited for the sun to warm the cliffs. Regretting the glint of her husband's eyes at her longing—I've seen her clamber and wail when she went off to be with canyon walls! Later, she'd rock me to sleep: O wei o na o wei o naa, o wei o na o wei o na'oho, o wei o nei o naa o wei o wei naa. And as she went riding over, I cannot tell you how the sky shot me to pieces. How my intestines lay like a wet mane over river rocks. I never saw the horse again. And now, my mother's people know nothing but to skid me across water into the walls below. Your people, he finished and stood up:
When you pile the night as long as I have,
and wait for walls to sink then rise into sun,
you can never know morning like this—
Tacey M. Atsitty, Diné, is Tsénahabiłnii (Sleep Rock People) and born for Ta'neeszahnii (Tangle People) from Cove, AZ. She is a recipient of the Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship, the Corson-Browning Poetry Prize, and Morning Star Creative Writing Award. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, Kenyon Review Online, bosque, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, As/Us, New Orleans Review, New Poets of the American West Anthology, and other publications. She lives in Utah.