The Bow

Bertrand Bickersteth

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I only know rivers


Waters elongated to the unrumpled recitatif

of endless land

The Bow knows

Has tongued and grooved the firmament, baby,

of this Last Best


The Bow knows

Stoney and Sarcee

The Bow knows Blood

The Buffalo spilled beyond its banks


The Bow knows Crowfoot

his Belly

his Old Man

softens his reservations

curses his Mary


The Bow knows


trickles over his chipped away Chippewa,

black and bisected by befuddled namings

by bemused memory

by his own fickle fur trading

With us? With them? Negro? Ojibwe?

Exposed by history? Or submerged below?


No ocean.

No tide.

No salt.

No sea. Too flat. Too far to see.


I only knows rivers, baby,

but what I only knows disturbs in me

Bertrand Bickersteth, "The Bow" from The response of weeds : poems. Copyright © 2020 by Bertrand Bickersteth. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Source: The response of weeds : poems (Bertrand Bickersteth / NeWest Press, 2020)