Punta del Este Pantoum

By Chip Livingston

Accept my need and let me call you brother,
Slate blue oyster, wet sand crustacean,
In your hurrying to burrow, wait.  Hover.
Parse opening’s disaster to creation’s

Slate, to another blue-eyed monstrous sand crustacean,
Water-bearer.  Hear the ocean behind me,
Pursued, asking to be opened, asking Creation
To heed the tides that uncover you nightly.

Water-bearer, wear the water beside me,
Hide your burying shadow from the shorebirds,
But heed the tides that uncover you nightly.
Gems in sandcastles, stick-written words,

Hidden from the shadows of shorebirds,
Washed over by water.  Water’s revelatory
Gems, sand, castles, sticks, words –
Assured of erasure, voluntary erosion.

Watched over with warrior resolution,
Crab armor, claws, and nautilus heart,
Assured of a savior, reconstruct your evolution,
Clamor to hear, water scarab, what the tampered heart hears.

A scarab’s armor is light enough to fly.
In your hurry to burrow, wait.  Hover.
Hear the clamor of the crustacean’s heart.
Heed this call of creation. Call me brother.
First published in SING:Poetry of the Indigenous Americas
The University of Arizona Press, 2011

How is it 
we stopped for directions to Cabo Polonio
and I smelled Fry bread? It couldn’t be,
I said, telling you quickly my hungry Indian
history.  You replied Estas son tortas fritas,
una comida del campo desde hace mucho tiempo,  
then Oh my God, those are my grandfathers!
And there they were, from Aguas Dulces,
visiting an old friend who ran the roadside stand,
a woman already wrapping the sweet dough
and packing it in a plastic bag with napkins
for us to eat on the sand dunes, trying to figure out
with your grandmother how long it had been
since the last time she’d seen you, only then
as tall as the hand she held at the pocket
of her thin denim skirt, and how was it again
that you and she were related.  I watched this
in English, waiting to taste the difference
I wouldn’t find in what your ancestors
and my ancestors fed us.  How is it
we shared this flour and fat they fried
as golden as buttered toast, on a dune buggy
ride to a village without roads or electricity,
ate this ancient bread on ancient rocks
watching seals you call los lobos
de mar, envisioning a new Picasso? 
We ate these tortas as the sun dove,
as the moon rose a day before it would be full,
telling each other the names of our appetites
in two languages winnowed down to basics:
Do you like me? Do you like the bread? How is it?

First published in SING: Poetry of the Indigenous Americas 
The University of Arizona Press, 2011
Copyright © Chip Livingston. All rights reserved.

Chip Livingston is the mixed-blood Creek author of two collections of poetry, CROW-BLUE, CROW-BLACK and MUSEUM OF FALSE STARTS, and a collection of short stories, NAMING CEREMONY, Lethe Press, 2014. Chip has received fiction awards from Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas, Wordcraft Circle of Writers and Storytellers, and the AABB Foundation. Chip grew up on the Florida-Alabama border and now lives in Colorado, where he teaches writing online, and is a faculty mentor in the low-rez MFA program at Institute of American Indian Arts in New Mexico. 

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