Double-Face Woman

double face woman


____________________________In memory of Ethel Blackcrow,    [break]____________________________Lakota quillworker

They warned me not to dream of her,[break]Anog-Ite’ the Double-Face Woman,[break]filled us with terror as young girls,[break]but after my fifth miscarriage[break]I didn’t care.[break]Let the other women bead[break]tiny lizards for their babies,[break]cut cottonwood twigs for childbirth.[break]I began to dream for Anog-Ite’.

I called and called, drank dark[break]teas, but when she drifted in, [break]I did not know her [break]on the right side, [break]moist lip, bright eye, [break]for she would not[break]turn her head.

At last I dreamed fierce[break]her bone side, reached [break]right through the black eyesocket[break]plunged my elbow deep[break]to pull out all those designs[break]pricked in the night sky–[break]quilled whorls and stars–[break]into my mind.

My arm did not wither[break]because I did not touch the bone[break]but I had known darkness[break]so I was gifted to work [break]with quills my hand [break]steady not pierced[break]by the black barb.

Now in a house [break]no man may enter[break]we boil dyes [break]steaming roots[break]bitter berry red[break]wormwood black[break]ochre yellow

we weave black barbs [break]& white shafts [break]our lips moist [break]swollen[break]from sucking quills flat[break]sucking medicine[break]pahin woskapi

we are fierce[break]we are childless[break]men do not bother us

we are sharp[break]we pierce[break]we prick

we know the designs.

Eclectic Literary Forum, 1995; Alabama Literary Review in 1996.

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