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"The Unfilled Branch" and "You In the Pond" by Alex Carrigan

The Unfilled Branch

My father tells me that there was an Indigenous woman who married into my family back when my family was divided based on the spelling of our Irish surname, back when one of my grandfathers named a farming community in Michigan after the Garden of Eden. I do not know her name. I do not know her tribe. That information was left out of the three-ringed binder passed around at my grandmother’s funeral. I do not know if she walked through the woods owned by my grandfather, if she braided her hair while sitting on a fallen log, if she collected acorns, pebbles, or feathers she found along the path. I do not know how her hair reflected the sunlight that peered through the trees of if the sounds of the creek gave her a respite from the sounds of the white men harvesting nearby. I know she is a part of my life and the lives of my siblings, cousins, aunts, grandfather, and my father. I know she probably cooked for her children and sang them songs to help them fall asleep on cold winter nights. I know she once lived on this earth, even if she’s now spread out through those woods like my grandfather’s ashes.

I know she’s out there. I just wish I could find her. Then I could slip a page about her into that binder the next time it’s passed around.

After Joy Harjo

You In the Pond

I stare at the water’s surface and wait for you to emerge, your skin pulling you deeper into yourself. I imagine the lines form curves like your signature on the last letter you sent to me before you went into the depth. I toss a rock into the pond, hoping to stir you from the sand you blanket yourself in. I imagine what you dream about as you sleep down there. Maybe it was the moment you sank, or of what you hoped to do once you stepped back onto the shore. It will take hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions, if not billions of years for the body to swallow me from my post on the shoreline bringing us face to face, vision marred. I imagine I’ll see you then, but I’ll stare until your flesh, white as the full moon’s reflection on the mirror above breaks apart and becomes part of the body’s ecosystem, until I’m left alone with bubbles for company. Then, I can confront what I caused and allow myself to be chained to the bottom as well.

After Rita Banerjee

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