Copyright 2013. Tani Arness. All rights reserved.

The Day

With water-sky and fire-hands,
we drag the sun,
a walrus, to the other side.
We pull, laughing and singing,
uvai, uvai, uvai.
The wind, our voices,
The wind, where we came from.
Our feet, wrapped in sealskin, 
walk like bears
over the ice:
What’s here today
will be different tomorrow,
the stars echoing the day,
aye, aye, yek.

Becoming Beautiful

Born into forests, rivers,
gray sky in her eyes.
She watches for heaven, a blue heron in mud;
she traces stars with tiny hands,
she looks inside apple blossoms and rhododendron flowers,
daffodils and azaleas, and they look back at her. 

In a world of thin, glass mirrors, she becomes a girl
blocked from glimpses of blue mountains expanding  
into nights cracked open—white streaks of stars. 

Years teach her
to paint faraway skies onto her face,
blue eyelids outlined in thick black night and golden glitter,
bright wildflowers pressed against her lips.
When she pauses to look, her face becomes canvas.    

She paints two thousand nights
before settling on looking only how she feels:
two parts trees, one part cloud and sun. 

She leaves the mirrors
searches for recognition outside in
the backdrop of rain, tree, fern and stone.
The earth helps the woman.
The forest remembers her name, casts its green shadows onto her eyes.
She longs to become that
a face echoing cedar in rain.