after the Cahto Indian creation myth (circa 1000)
Names went away.
Naming went away, they say.
Syntax went away, then grammar was not.
Walking slowed, stuttered, then walking went away, they say.
Memory was sometimes, sometimes not, they say.
Eating was less, less, then not, they say.
Lifting of the head was, then was not.
Turning of the head went next, they say.
Blinking was there, blinking only.
Memory was where, they asked. Blinking answered.
Blinking slowed, stuttered.
Blinking was there, then was not.
Then blinking again. Then not, they say.
Then they went away, they say.
Though they were not there to say it.
Nor were there ways left of saying it.
Jessica Goodfellow’s poetry books are Whiteout (University of Alaska Press 2017), Mendeleev’s Mandala (2015), and The Insomniac’s Weather Report (2014). A former writer-in-residence at Denali National Park and Preserve, she’s had poems in The Southern Review, Scientific American, Verse Daily, Motionpoems, and Best American Poetry 2018.
Image: “Decollage2” by Shane Allison