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River Pruitt

Two Poems

Nanih Waiya


I’m trying to remember the way Mississippi smells

salted earth

ancient dust

the sweetness of cane swimming through the breeze

trying to remember where we were

before called to this


can emptiness be festering

underneath the red dirt

quiet rising

breathe deeply

silt and clay fills my lungs

takes up my body

beside me lay

stone and bones, mixed

into the ether un


the cracks

come from underneath

and out from it

the flood

of ants

where grasshoppers should be

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Original woodblock print by the author.

for Indie

there is a small willow tree
on my block

                             she grows on the shoreline
               of a wide river,
roots desiring
a sensation;
the wet
               of earth
deep where she is settled


                             back bending towards the
                   water, limbs
          reaching down
     to meet
with the surface—
breaking the tension
with a kiss
and the lightest touch
tracing the edges
               making small      ripples
               with each

her nimble branches,
shifting with the slightest
of the wind’s


sway rhythmically
a tune flitting through
the same way
               dance through
the flowering buds
               to catch their soft

the river’s waters catch
    all else that
       falls from
    the breathing in—
her body
and in
but a moment
a piece
             down     stream

River Pruitt (they/them) is a trans Indigiqueer Chahta settler on Kanaka Maoli lands as a PhD student in English at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, beadworker, artist, and language learner. They are interested in radical Indigiqueer futures, resurgence, and their two very cute (but annoying) cats.

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