after Billy-Ray Belcourt

love is a bundle of teachings
is your momma burning sage after school
++++++until your hair becomes thick and
++++++cleansed with smoke
is another word for a wound
wound is another word for a person
++++++who loved you until they decided
++++++your trauma was too heavy
++++++for their lungs
++++++as if they were breathing in tragedy
++++++and not you
a person is the smell trapped in your blankets
the word for breakup sex is salt
salt can be used to enhance or suppress
suppress is what happened to your people
++++++is the way English feels on your tongue
tongue is the creature exploring old thighs
and building homes from spit
++++++as if you could find shelter for your body
++++++by being dominated by another
finding shelter can mean to find or take protection
protection is when you got enough change
for a cigarette to give tobacco to tsét’soyé
++++++and know all you can offer are blessings
blessings are what your momma taught you
is the way you thank a man for gripping your throat
throat is home for song and prayer
prayer is when you ask for the fists to stop
++++++is when you wish to die and find hope
hope is a word scratching at disbelief
and asking you to give it a new name.

Moira J.