Bone Spur

Tacey Atsitty

I told myself, Bááhadzid. It means I told my hand
to be careful because it looked harmless.

Mine were palms once bruised. Now they lift
like snowflakes; a flit and sunder at even haaaa.

It’s not that I don’t want loose. Iceworms
recumbent from wriggle expand, and my wrist
bone goes swollen with freeze.

I lament how wrist joins forearm to hand.
In these moments when palms turn like face.

With thin tubes of empty, I lip
a sucking song, one that melts
the ice-beads from my joints.

But I can no longer abide singing male parts
in addition to female vocables. I am breathless
by the time I begin my own.

That is to say I don’t invoke water.
I am most agreeable in drought,
but fear the far tingle and burn of hands.

The problem is my love abides only in ice storm.

The truth is my wrists lock even at the waft of flame,
at the grain of hair rubbing together in a hand-towel,
at the smallest drizzle on my palms.


            I asked you down here:

            where I dangled virgin belts from my thighs

            where I was like a woman giving birth, pulling the ceiling in by sash belt, knuckles
so white, and without a moan

            where leaves have turned so quickly, already red with winter 

            where we wait for the deluge, but it never comes 

            not yet ripe, only vocables can embody

Down here, I couldn’t pull out of this tune to utter

the cowardice of my hand and tongue     what I wanted

I couldn’t tear myself from this heap of blankets, this rocking comfort my—

            self: the only one I allow 

and if I had a son for you, he would be a monster


I couldn’t sing above the onrush of falling water, that pounding connect from mouth to base

            how to lick cloudburst, the way I wanted

Down here, I spoke with the tongue of cedar: bark and kindle  

for the clouds last night, how they held back

            But like I’ve told you, we should not chant what is not ours

you sacked yourself up and waited for me to unravel you

a bag of pears. How when I gave one to you, it was too hard. But still it gushed with each pull

of skin  


And still I couldn’t tear away from the heap of blankets                        

even when you told me you were ready for downpour:

I offered you my hand to guide me down the gorge  

            But didn’t play my flute for you; I didn’t want you to fall in—

with me, like I did. I strummed you so thinly; and still you chanted

            I am left to cramp, my entire body over

Does it make you feel any better that my wrists ache for you?


I brought you down here and let my hair loose, then asked you to put it in a knot 

            my confidence is worn to warps, a bald fringe

my breath is not shaped in the syllables of your name

you said how rain and I go beautifully together

            this is what it means to apologize 

how I curled my hair for you, and still do now—

how my nails chipped before the moons pushed on through

how I crossed my legs for you and watched you blow at rain 

            how your fingers wrapped my silence

how I prefer the heavens to rainfall

            how for you, I am all of this—as sorry as I was when I said,  

            The sky is so hollow from child.

Rain Scald

When you’ve been standing (in rain) so long, you no longer hear
or feel it falling— you believe it’s stopped. Step away— 

look to your (skin; muck itch. It’s a) shame, your hands
have gone bald from fungus. Taking you to (what’s beneath scab,

to) one of those nights when you know (your gums will bleed.
To say) it’s been a while or that it has to do with (wrist mange

is to say rot comes so easily now, skin weep—) lapse. Step through
the whole (black of your home,) and still know damp, know

(exactly when to cup your finger for) the light switch.

                       `           `           `
so familiar (in aubade)
                                                                                      shame, your hands

have gone haywire. Taking you to (what’s beneath rust: ranges

they’ve grazed—) a time

            when you’re combed through

                                                when you know your knuckles—

and all that the rain has swallowed.

Tacey Atsitty
Tacey Atsitty

Tacey M. Atsitty, Diné, from Cove, Arizona is Tsénahabiłnii (Sleep Rock People) and born for Ta'neeszahnii (Tangle People). She is a recipient of the Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship, the Corson-Browning Poetry Prize, and Morning Star Creative Writing Award. She holds bachelor degrees from Brigham Young University and the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is a recent graduate of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Cornell University. She currently teaches English and Native American Studies at San Juan College in Farmington, NM. Her work has appeared in Florida Review, Talking Stick: Native Arts Quarterly, New Poets of the American West Anthology and other publications. Her chapbook Amenorrhea came out February 2009 by Counting Coup Press.