Rena Priest | Poetry

SUPER SACRED

The super sacred ceremony
is a portal to pre-contact.
All the songs are time machines,
but they only travel to the past
and you have to know how
to ride a rhythm and a tone.

The super sacred ceremony
is a succession of inventions
receding into oblivion.
Smartphones are the first to go,
the last is the sense of smell.

When you come to the beginning
there is the scent of geosmin,
then ozone, then nothing.
No more quenching of thirst
with the sound of rain.

No more salt. The word salt
is from the Latin for particle.
Jk. The word for salt isn’t real.
The word scent however,
is also a container,
for thoughts about hunting,
and lovemaking, and lilacs.

Vera Rubin, did you ever wonder
if dark matter weren’t made
of women like you? Quietly
doing 90% of the work
of holding together the universe?
Keeping it all from flying apart,
just like a family matriarch?

The super sacred ceremony
requires a night dentist
to extract the dark tooth
and replace it with gold.
(This is my real Indian poem,
the one the admissions board
and a certain readership
have been waiting for.)

Here are some beads.
Here are some feathers.
Here is a song and dance
that changes up the weather.
Here is the requisite mention
of mother Earth, and the moon.
Here is a deer with a velvet hide
who asks of me with his mind,
“Indian poems? Why you no write?”
Here is a sacred prayer at sunrise.
Here are two eagles in flight.
And here is my forgiveness.

The super sacredness of this,
my real Indian poem,
is going to absolve all white guilt,
but only if you buy my book,
grant me admission,
say I’m a good Indian;
a real Indian! Princess,

when anthropologists came
to study my tribe,
they recorded the phrase,
Suit en Tchieqw ey, “Your light
is good.” Did the old people mean
lamplight, or heart light, or both?
We’ll never know.

All the songs are time machines,
but all the words have changed.

Rena Priest is a Lummi tribal member, born and raised in a subterranean homesick matriarchy. Her work often blends elements of fiction, folklore, oral history, scientific ephemera, and poetry to tell stories and truths. Her debut book, Patriarchy Blues, was released on MoonPath Press and garnered a 2018 American Book Award. Her most recent collection, Sublime Subliminal, is slated for publication on Floating Bridge Press in the Fall. She has recently been a Sustainable Arts Fellow at Mineral School, and a writer in residence at Works on Water and Underwater New York on Governor’s Island in New York City. Her work can be found in literary journals and anthologies including: Diagram, Sweet Tree Review, and Collateral Journal. Rena is active in the promotion of social and environmental justice through the practice of arts and culture in her community, and is the recipient of a 2018 National Geographic Explorers Grant. She has taught various topics in writing, storytelling, and literature at Northwest Indian College, Fairhaven College and Western Washington University. She holds an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Bellingham.

2018-11-26T18:11:42+00:00