the witch

ho’ok lived here stitching fire into skin
phoenix was a sunlit city, she wanted to spit at it every time the sun kissed her

ho’ok worked at social services on the rez
drove on clay colored freeways as dawn broke to let her poison prey over o’odham families

ho’ok hated that their offspring existed to torment her
how their playing sounded like shrill screams, causing her nerves to twist and turn

ho’ok tore families apart by the sharpness of her nails
it gave strength to her bones to see mothers cry as their children were taken away

ho’ok felt strangely about the desert
how the dirt constantly got inside her shoes as if it was trying to bury her in the ground

ho’ok had a brown tinted window in her office
sometimes she heard children being taught bird songs by their fathers

ho’ok thought these sounds were familiar
her feet would start to hurt, a soreness that ached for her to tear apart all that remained

she drove home everyday during rush hour
passing mountains and buildings that always stayed the same
to her one bedroom apartment that never let in company
her lonely mornings weaved in circles with her lonely nights
she stirred her nighttime tea with her fingernail under stove light

“home” she would whisper, because dead silence sometimes burned
“i want to go home” she would cry

but the o’odhams still haunted her dreams and her days
and she was reminded the job was not yet done

Sarah Camille Chiago is a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

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