A February Snow
I thought I knew love in every dragof the tongue across icing, sparklein glaze, thought I went wadinginto stars, pulling my dress upto my knees—I get like thiswhen it precipitates: falllike salt. Muscles in my back tearto the point of floating, bearingflakes. They come heavy now,lacking grace, exposing the weightmy collarbones carry. The windcan only lift so much with its song:snow is a blessing; its coloramplifies silence, so you can hearevery crunch or offering of self:a sugar cookie wrapped in napkin.Alas, all that's here is a fieldof snow & a napkin to cleansemy lips of any leftover sweetness.I ate that cookie for days, until I fellbrittle. It's the time of year when I sinkinto my armchair, into threadsof branches gone bare. It's tough to tellin this scene if it's birth or dyingtime. All I know is it's the seasonwhen wind comes crying, like a babywhose head knocks a pew during the passingof the sacrament, that silence—her long inhale filling with pain.
From (At) Wrist (University of Wisconsin Press) by Tacey Atsitty, originally published in Literature and Belief.
Copyright © 2023 by Tacey M. Atsitty.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Tacey M. Atsitty, Diné (Navajo), is Tsénahabiłnii (Sleep Rock People) and born for Ta’neeszahnii (Tangle People). She was born in Logan, UT, grew up in Kirtland, NM but is originally from Cove, AZ.
Atsitty is a recipient of the Wisconsin Brittingham Prize for Poetry and other prizes. She holds bachelor’s degrees from Brigham Young University and the Institute of American Indian Arts, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in POETRY; EPOCH; Kenyon Review Online; Prairie Schooner; When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry; Leavings, and other publications. Her first book is Rain Scald (University of New Mexico Press, 2018), and her second book is (At) Wrist (University of Wisconsin Press, 2023).
She is the director of the Navajo Film Festival, a member of Advisory Council for BYU’s Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, a board member for Lightscatter Press of SLC, and a McKnight Fellow.
She is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Florida State University in Tallahassee, where she lives with her husband.
“(At) Wrist lifts and sways with loss, praise, gratitude, intimacy, love, and grief—all that makes us human—both earthly and divine—as a piercing echo song of the natural world. Atsitty sings, ‘The wind / can only lift so much with its song: / snow is a blessing; its color / amplifies silence, so you can hear / every crunch or offering of self.’ I gather strength as the collarbones, wrists, veins, ankles, and soles of feet of this human body hold me together as delicately and powerfully as the creeks, canyons, glacier stones, and tree bones. Here, I’m humbled by a great sense of oneness and endurance, now as in the past, when ‘we rushed like rain to meet / along the ridges of the Chuskas.’ Thank you, Tacey Atsitty, for this star choir of beauty.”
—Layli Long Soldier, author of Whereas
“A delirium of image and language. These poems are inviting and elegant and transformative, which then makes the whole reading experience pure poetic pleasure. You will find yourself returning to these poems again and again to relish and savor her love for humanity. This book is a blessing.”
—Virgil Suárez, author of The Painted Bunting’s Last Molt and Amerikan Chernobyl
“Atsitty’s favored form throughout (At) Wrist is the sonnet, whose centuries-old traditions she extends and refashions. Her experiments with the form—the ribbon-thin 'Lace Sonnet,' a 13-line 'Candy Dish Sonnet'—both praise and pattern themselves after decorative arts, revealing the often unappreciated labor they require. In lacemaking and poetry alike, Atsitty discovers fittingly intricate figures for the countless ways our lives overlap and intertwine.”
—Harriet, Poetry Foundation
“Atsitty consistently delivers surprises in sound and syntax, and across sensory, and sometimes sensual, imagery. . . . Atsitty is an early career poet to follow.”
“Highlights experiences of shared vulnerability and honesty and lessons. . . . Stories are created through experiences and emotional phases.”