There is a dawn between my legs,
overflowing mad rouge birds,
crazy-mean, bronze-tailed hawks,
a phoenix preening
sharp-hot wings, pretty pecking procession,
feathers flashing like flames
in a Semana Santa parade.

There are bulls between my legs,
a toreadora
stabbing her banderillas,
snapping her cape, tippy-toes scraping
my mottled thighs, the crowd’s throats open,
shining like new scars, glowing
from beneath hands and white handkerchiefs
bright as bandages.

There are car wrecks between my legs,
a mess of maroon Volkswagens,
a rusted bus abandoned in the Grand Canyon,
a gas tanker in flames,
an IHS van full of corned beef hash,
an open can of commodity beets
on this village’s one main road, a stop light
pulsing like a throat, a police car
flickering like a new scab,
an ambulance driven by Custer,
another ambulance
for Custer.

There is a war between my legs,
a wager, a fight, a losing
that cramps my fists, a battle on eroding banks
of muddy creeks, the stench of metal,
purple-gray clotting the air,
in the grass the bodies
dim, cracked pomegranates, stone fruit,
this orchard stains
like a cemetery.

There is a martyr between my legs,
my personal San Sebastian
leaking reed arrows and sin, stubbornly sewing
a sacred red ribbon dress,
the carmine threads
pull the Colorado River, clay and creosotes
from the skirt,
each wound a week,
a coral moon, a calendar, a begging
for a master, or a slave, for a god
in magic cochineal pants.

There are broken baskets between my legs,
cracked vases, terracotta crumbs,
crippled grandmothers with mahogany skins
whose ruby shoes throb on shelves in closets,
who teach me to vomit
this fuchsia madness,
this scarlet smallpox blanket,
this sugar-riddled amputated robe,
these cursive curses scrawling down my calves,
this rotting strawberry field, swollen sunset,
hemoglobin joke with no punchline,
this crimson garbage truck,
this bloody nose, splintered cherry tree, manzano,
this metís Mary’s heart,
guitarra acerezada, red race mestiza, this cattle train,
this hand-me-down adobe drum,
this slug in the mouth,
this via roja dolorosa,
this dark hut, this long house, this dirty bed,
this period of exile.

About the Author

Natalie Diaz was born on September 4, 1978, and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe, she received her BA and MFA from Old Dominion University. Diaz is the author of Postcolonial Love Poem (Graywolf Press, 2020), winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and finalist for the National Book Award and the Forward Prize in Poetry, and When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012), winner of an American Book Award. In 2021, Diaz was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She lives in Phoenix.