I pledge allegiance to the doomed life, clumsy
person, old salmon that batters up a shallow stream.
Marked for hurt by this failing, arrested by a simple
glimpse of struggle or cruelty, I see the hopeful swagger
of a grown person in a child’s bravado, or the childish hurt
in an old-face defeated stare. The weak syllable in a voice,
hitch of silence, hint of lessons taught by loss—these plead
my devotion.

Once I had a sweetgrass bag, but gave it away to a stranger.
“You have a sorrow,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to see
how deep it goes.”

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