Skins, Forms, Flows, Tones

Red water droplet.

What holds water in a drop
tension that holds humans in

between 
their sweet skins

water holds us
her arms bays
tide of blood
beat so close
  just our skins
  between
home and ocean
inland sea
river just between us
  just a beat 
  between 
who you are
who I am 
who we are 
 

We call our own way back
climb a liquid ladder
pour ourselves into 
various and fluid forms 

  Between
bluegreen bays
gray lakes
river feeding life into our bodies
We flow across continents 
flow through peoples 
one water no matter
our drift the rifts 
and rips of tides
Our skins vibrate afire
concordant   a blood current 
      sounding 
Just us

Just this skin between us

Skins  skin kin kindred
kind red kind
kin skin

What holds water in a drop
tension that holds humans 
between their sweet skins

her arms bays
tide of blood
beat so close
  just our skins
  between
home and body of water
just   between us
  just a beat 
  between 
who you are
who I am 
who we are 

You wear your skin  no matter where
you inherited   your tones smooth 
over structure of bone   anyone who 
looked at you   would know  No

Your home of skin
Warm cool sleek subtle shag of 
      days
steam of work sweat and regret and 
      inked to say

My skin’s a story
you cannot guess
a history you cannot claim

Tones songs forms to say 
Let me tell you you won’t know me
by my blue-black blurred   word 
      that bled into fade 
                                    no matter 

My skin’s a story
you cannot guess

My people made me
My water claims me

You cannot guess 
I swim a liquid ladder
Distance no matter no home too far

Skins  skin kin kindred
kind red kind
kin skin

Carry me across dry days 
My skin my own sweet home for water
Beating blood of history

We water walking  we skins

Poet Heid E. Erdrich (Ojibwe enrolled at Turtle Mountain) is author of seven books including Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum for Archaic Media (2017). She also makes poem films with fellow Ojibwe and indigenous artists. Heid teaches in the low-res MFA program at Augsburg College.

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