Kinsale Drake

The Greenhouse

This was my first winter, when the world grew stiff
                    and brilliant-white. Nothing was familiar
except the desert rooms, so I’d stalk the rows
                    of spiny Latin names between my classes
                                        until my sweater-neck

collected sweat. I hung around the orchids,
                    the insectivores, the cacti. Prickly pear,
the great saguaro. I missed the chollas

most of all. My grandmother’s house nestled
                    in their shade, but here they were,
two thousand miles from where she lived.
                    They are quiet subjects,

easily uprooted. And here I swam
                    beneath the heat lamps in a year that nearly
                                        brought the roof down
with snow. What did I know then

of how the earth back home slumps around each absence
                    it cannot fill? How the shallow graves gape
                                        for missing seeds until
                    they are swallowed by rain.



Your Return

Last night we fought
again in my dreams.
It’s funny how
when we do this,
our small step-dance,
you only speak
in Navajo and I
understand. This time,
it was the egg-blue
kettle or tóshchíín pot
left on the stove
too long, bottom
roasted black. Or
my favorite dog
you’d kicked at,
maybe a bit too hard,
like the time you swung
to save the last chicken
and your water
broke and my father
cried out from
the window. You
never said I love
you after we fought
like this. But
in my dreams, we
cry at the table
and it is almost
like drowning
until I wake up
my mouth wet
with tears,
the sound
of the kitchen
door opening
is you,
from the table
to the dog
closing its heavy jaws
on the rooster,
hágo, shhh!
come here,
come here.



Kinsale Drake (Diné) is a writer and performer whose work has appeared in the Adroit Journal, Yale Literary Magazine, TIME, and elsewhere. She is an In-Na-Po Fellow, and the winner of the J. Edgar Meeker Prize for Poetry and the YIPAP Award for Storytelling. Her work is published or forthcoming in New World Coming (Torrey House Press, 2021), The Languages of our Love (Abalone Mountain Press, 2022), and her zine Hummingbird Heart (Abalone Mountain Press, 2022).