Cherokee Canoe

by Natalie Welch

I want to take the ash in my cupped hands and say,


look what I have done,

I have burned to death this living thing.


I lit your base until you fell,

heard the screaming crack when you did.

And now the wind blows the scent

of your pine brothers across the copse.


My brothers and I hollowed out your insides

with fire and stone, and we cover ourselves

with your gray-white greasy dust.

We wear you like war paint,

and we will ride you across shining waters.

And the sap of your brothers will cry for you.


I smell you still, strong pine, the fresh smell

of your upward growth,

until the wind floats your ashy remains into my nostrils

and chokes me

with the stench

of your corpse.

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