Reading Harjo I see
the end of my memory—
her ancestors, my severed line not
at the ocean, but even after.
Though we paint pysanki, our
frozen pierogi are served with a side of
poppy seed cake, courtesy of Moosewood.
And the branches more established?
Daughter of the American Revolution,
I once ran a welcome wagon (kind of)
until my wealth ran out,
or I was given up, my siblings too many.
I Rosied rivets and spoke Welsh with the old
nostalgic for an accent I’d never heard.
What can I claim? How can I know
where I start if I can only love
the memory of coal dust
that darkens upper leaves.
And maybe that’s what’s with this city
wrong, where so many of us came
to start anew—
severed, floating while all around us
Natives hunkered down, frozen
shadows, street corners and basements—
a tripline of roots we’d rather not see.
A native of Moscow, Idaho, Isla McKetta is the author of Polska, 1994 (Éditions Checkpointed) and co-author of Clear Out the Static in Your Attic: A Writer’s Guide for Turning Artifacts into Art (Write Bloody). She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Goddard College in Port Townsend, Washington. Isla makes her home in Seattle where she writes fiction, poetry, and book reviews. Find her on Twitter at @islaisreading and on the web at www.islamcketta.com.