How These Levees Broke

These thickets thrashed by wailing waters
leave nothing alive but a disembodied memory
that scratches the walls of our most vital organ from
inside out, it steals the very air we need to live

We breathe the toxins left behind in the perfume of your wake
standing in sound that echoes against our skin and
vibrates violently on tiny violins in our veins
straining for distant breaking that somehow these ears
are attracted to: such lavish lies looted from salted lily ponds

I hate: the speech you stitch as you hide your stained hands,
the stench stirred by feet marching through thick mud.
Glow, flicker and vanish, like the puff of smoke I use to throw you away.
Take your calloused, heavy palms with you.

If only you could see the thoughts you conjure now,
nothing but a laugh forming in the back of my throat.

Katrina Montoya is a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) and a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Her writing has been published in the student anthology at IAIA and the Tribal College Journal. She also wrote an original screenplay that won best student film at the Red Nation Film Festival in 2009. Her family proves to be her biggest inspiration. Without the help of her sisters, grandmother, and single-parent father, none of the hurdles she has overcome or the dreams she has achieved would have been possible. Her short story, “Daughter,” was an award winner in TCJ’s best fiction category. To her family, she dedicates her achievements.

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