Fetishes carved by Zuni
are colorful and strong.
But I’m always seeking
talismans of my own,
symbols of my own life,
from my own geography:
clinging head lice, flying cockroach,
buzzing skeeter, biting yellow fly,
these small animals tougher than
frail humans — but without
the teeth or claws or talons
of those hair-bristled creatures
turned to so polished stones
from New Mexico’s hardness.
My rocky essence resides
amid these coastal plains.
Alapaha: not tribes, but
just old bodies of water
snaking through South Georgia.
Another fetish from my hands:
the petrified tick made of red clay,
smoothly engorged on shining blood.
You must grab a tick just so,
and this clay will — unless turned
and burned by experienced hands —
fall apart into fine particles,
like ancient blood, earthen red,
already dried on your fingers,
or a little may flake away
like your own dusty dead skin.