Cutter Quilt

By Isabel Duarte-Gray

the night river is a woman washing
clean the moon
upon forgiving rocks

are these nails my person are they
dead apart of me the callus where
I grip my drawknife all my life
was pink as hatchlings or
a child born just a little
dead already tied and then I
waked to watch his afterbirth
be buried in a hole
in Tennessee

cowslips are so named
to tell us where to watch the ground for shit
our fathers planted flags
carved out of sounds
carved flowers

here in winter
darkness finds
my hand trapped in the velvet
of the sumac and the velvet
of the antler

a cat’s tongue is a briar patch
a dog’s tongue is a madstone
a snake’s tongue is a trigger finger
Man’s tongue pleases no one

when a dove is shot’s the only time
to see her color true the way her color is
a hinge into the gray
rolls into fawn wades into
morning pink it’s as if
speckles storming on the trout
caught in a basin
caught the light

the women beat the stains into the water
the river beats the stain into the land

Dycusburg, Kentucky


Isabel Duarte-Gray, “Cutter Quilt” from Even Shorn. Copyright © 2021 by Isabel Duarte-Gray. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Sarabande Books,