Jessica Mehta

A girl gotta grow up, leave the rez, & do we talk about it? Igido called twice for bail but both were after a Tahlequah fall & high with opioid they drove right through a gate. Bolted up the highway—bare feet & all—hitched a ride via lifted truck to take her far away before 911 with, The devil up & took the car. Dad left right outta jail, headed to the Pacific & gave away that plot of Cherokee a year later. You’da hated it & I probably would have.

No folks gonna talk of them gone ones anymore. They look at me all,  Got some bless’n on y’all—after all, no cop has got me (yet). No reason, really. Everyone else, the hole fam’ly, gone & sear to memory the creak of a cell’s cot frame long ago. None of y’all can fathom at the places gonna call for me. They gone & settle prefrontal cortex, & that seems an okay place to some.

At 15, we 3 bunked all day 4 an aged wee-jee game: We’d all be dead by 23 and we laughed and made a bet 4 the chance. An ATV ate Ann at 18 and then a fancy cable hung by Althea came next. Hadn’t even nudged me 4 that plan. And when death happen that way, we can’t talk any decent way.

No one talk anythin’ of funeral one or two & I kept look out for a face I knew while the Catholic father went on & on about killin’ another or you like no difference & prayin’ for both. Father, what type of Native turn Catholic, anyway? Who tuck that in their brain? All thru junior year, neither talk of church or nothin’. Creator not have way to fix it, then?

Who up and say so long to that god? Why do NDNs stand for that nat’l song? So many of us wash away, walk away, drag and drug away and nobody’s com’n back from that havoc of war.

Some of us hate a couple, “wo,” tacked to the 1st of what we call big boys. But with Tsaligi it’s fixed—Asgaya, male. Agehya, female. Why make that “M” all a mess, wave wide those legs & smile? It’s the 1st of the alphabet, debut of music, the call all of us made as we slipped to this place. & maybe that’s the space us Agehya go to. The alpha, the basis, the middle of this wasted home.

I ran away, still a kid, and my mama said why why why until pills kick’d in. With my dad and sis, Luv y’all was last. With my mama, I try and say I try. I try. I try.

When they ask where we went, where we go, why gone permanent cloys & flanks so close, why holes & channels swallow w/ ease & no one asks or even seems to say that’s strange, remember. Remember: those who are gone never go that far. We are here. We stay. To be forgotten means an agreement’s complete—that’s not ever gonna happen


*This poem is written in a lipogram style, part of the oulipo family. The first stanza is missing the “m” in the phrase “murdered & missing indigenous women.” The second stanza is missing the “u.” This pattern repeats as the stanzas spell out “murdered & missing indigenous women.” (Once the poem has been read once, the missing letters continue to repeat by returning to the first stanza).

Originally published in Moss: Volume Five.
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