National Poetry Month Day 24: Laura Da’

By

 

 

 

The Rhetorical Feminine

 

Gliding from the confluence of Battery Rock
to the Devil’s Backbone inside the Shawnee

National Forrest makes a sound I cannot
duplicate in English. With one finger tracing

the route on an atlas, my tongue wet
with nostalgia—a waterlogged migration

by touch. I seek the cities without the words.
As late somebody’s 1810 there were headwater

communities of women for the express purpose of healing,
birthing, governing shared territory—crouched

in the frog-legged stance of delivery and defense.
Linguistic evidence suggests a pattern of feminization

in Shawnee rhetoric. Nation of women,
bellowed strangers even as river city

dialects mouthed spells that cured war like hides
and curved breech births veiled in water

to the banks of living territory. Gliding from the confluence
of Battery Rock to the Devil’s Backbone

inside the Shawnee National Forrest
makes a sound I cannot duplicate in English.

***

Photograph of Laura Da’ by Kathee Statler.


Laura Da’ is a poet and teacher. A lifetime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Da’ studied creative writing at the University of Washington and The Institute of American Indian Arts. Da’ is Eastern Shawnee. She is the author of Tributaries, winner of the American Book Award, and Instruments of the True Measure, winner of the Washington State Book Award. Da’ lives near Seattle with her husband and son and is a writer in residence at Richard Hugo House. More from this author →