Sherwin Bitsui is originally from White Cone, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. He is Diné of the Tódích´ii´nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tlizílaaní (Many Goats Clan). He holds an AFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts Creative Writing Program and a BA from University of Arizona in Tucson. His recent honors include a 2011 Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship and a 2011 Native Arts & Culture Foundation Arts Fellowship. He is also the recipient of 2010 PEN Open Book Award, and an American Book Award for his second book of poems, Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press, 2009). Bitsui has published his poems in Narrative, Black Renaissance Noir, American Poet, The Iowa Review, LIT, and elsewhere.
With a gaping mouth,
I sought an image to describe the knot in my chest,
the car door jammed -
the land divided into two new car scents.
We row toward the oar wet with deer blood
and onward to the edge that must be crossed
with crosses hammered into it.
I see their footprints in fresh snow.
The soft spot of their childhood heads
pushed branchless into the parched earth.
Gray amnesia swirling after songbirds in its dome.
The distance they traveled
chipped down to a few powdery beginnings
in the arroyo with flies buzzing out of it.