Teaching in Pembroke, North Carolina




She keeps asking
why I’ve come here—
what spirit called me
deeper or what bet I’d lost:
the land baron
and breathing

wet and full with pine.
He keeps naming me
baby— I cannot be angry
with a holy jaw.

The hawk guards
the tongue,
the mouth— I watch
the feathers fall
on yellow tobacco
leaves. His body, her body

sing a history that is not mine—
rhythm etched into dark bone
at birth. I am aware of my white
body, humming. I should not want
to pretend the river knows my name.




Note: 89% of the residents of Pembroke, NC are Lumbee, a state-recognized tribe that has yet to be given full federal recognition. UNC Pembroke was first established in 1887 to serve this community.

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