I wake to
red sand I
sleep here
coral brick
hooghaan I
walk thin
rabbit brush
trails side-
step early
pick desert
white flowers
on full days I
inhale fe-
male rain
I stop wheels
slow sheep
bounce drop
sheep shit
me I grass
here I meta-
grass I sleep-
walk grasses
open eyes to
blue corn sky
to cook up
stews chunks
half-chewed thru
I am this
mouth without
hands with-
out arms 
bent down
face to plate to
some origin(al)
hunger aware
that I’m alone
and I alone am
the one -> pushing
the head
to eat


Copyright © 2016 by Layli Long Soldier. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 7, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“‘Irony’ is one of six poems I’ve written on grasses in the last few years. My dad’s family is from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and my mom’s family is from northern Idaho, yet I grew up in the Southwest. When I travel north, it’s the grasses that speak warmly in welcome and they’re what I miss most when I leave. I relish the fragrance—fresh and redolent, rich and musky at once...and the sight of breezes across the surface, a graceful oceanic sway. When I write, I write to whom or what I love the most. But it’s in absence, most especially, I find poems.”
—Layli Long Soldier