Thursday, April 10, 2008

from Notes to Nomenclature


It is true, I have spent all my ammunition. I am unarmed on the rooftop, the site of your absence from.

Below the world is its own clamoring. When akiwenzii, the old man, settles in the doorway, he fills it with his accumulation, a lifetime of. I am not the only one watching. Behind the flowered curtain is my neighbor, a woman whose life is a fearful surveillance. A half an hour later, the police have come. I am like mizise, a bird hovering.

Below the world repeats itself. A policeman kicks akiwenzii’s legs, which in sleep have protruded beyond the shadow of the doorway. I shout from the rooftop, nimishoo, grandpa, but akiwenzii does he not to hear me. The other man takes out his nightstick and waves it across the spread of disastrous belongings. Akiwenzii gathers his legs, but does not flinch. Every uniform is a reference to its violent origin. Akiwenzii is old enough to know the etymology.

Nimishoo is the one whose own family called him other. His mother said as much, even without the stink of history on her breath. When he was twelve, his uncle gave him a pet lizard and a waagikomaan, a hooked knife, something to split the life from. For his gifts, uncle made certain requests. Simple things really, a touch, a brief opening. Only later did nimishoo learn to read his life according to the shape of another man’s intestines.

Who can say what it means to be spent, empty of. In one move, akiwenzii lifts himself to his knees and draws the knife across the policeman’s waist. He grabs the mess of entrails as a talisman against the other. Nimishoo knows the world is flat. More than once, he has fallen off.


One quarter of rams prefer the horned, the horny male of their species. Older studies of human mammalian behavior found something closer to one in ten. What the ewe desires is anybody’s guess. If you sheer the coat of wool you will find tender pink flesh. Beneath your coat, you are desiccant, unyielding. You are that which cannot, won’t. You are only what you refuse to be. To quell is to rattle until the pen breaks. The ewe will choose her own direction. She is warm and fat. Her whiteness is bright against the green hills. Maanishtaanish have been called simple, docile, flock. But she is alone and grazing up toward the mountain’s spine. When night calls the wolves howl. She tucks her legs beneath her white coat and dreams of men, penned and naked, bleating like sheep.

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