To Salt Lake, Letter Regarding Genealogy
after Charles Olson
No shore no shore backed against a paradox of water where snow
halts in valleys & we drink
what melts, I, risen from one break in the endless
salt flat. I have had to build. O! how I have built for you!
See how I have come, Salt Lake, with my thousand faces of the void!
My face night with no stars, my face waves
in night sea. I was born to work.
My mother, crow-headed goddess, called me dust & trusted
I’d become. I changed for you! I became
a quarry in Big Cottonwood. Later, I was born
in uniform & carried a pickax in my throat.
I stole the mountain’s sandstone & it wasn’t good enough
so I took its quartz instead & told you “pray by it”. I,
Guard-thing of the White city. How would you pray without me!
I was born with a sore head from a perm & swaddled in pages
from The Good Book. I was a decoy.
I pretended not to know my many names.
I did the work of believing with you.
I was born on swamp property the woman who bore me was an animal.
We were both animals, then.
I covered your wagon w canvas & I found you
If I take up the bow
What should we kill
How will we disappear
Behind the Cypress
How will we
We are not here
When we are here
What will we call mercy
Is it the arrow
To the bloodline
Do we keep
Or do we give
Them our names