Vivian Faith Prescott lives and writes in Lingit Aaní at her family’s fishcamp on the land of the Shtax’heen Kwáan in Wrangell, Alaska. Kaachxana.áak’w (Wrangell) is a small island located in the Alexander Archipelago of Southeast Alaska. She’s a member of the Pacific Sámi Searvi and a founding member of Community Roots, the first LGBTQIA group on the island. She’s the author of several poetry chapbooks, three full-length poetry collections, in addition to works of non-fiction and fiction.
This one, a seedling not wanted,
was trapped but bloomed anyway
like red clusters of highbush cranberries
and was going to tear me open. They said.
This one—that did not wake. That could not
be saved. That if fallen, would’ve crushed
my living limbs.
Turns out, they were wrong.
And when they opened the forest of my belly
there were cysts and twists and stands
of rotting cedar.
And already there were cells forming
a curve of neural tube like a banana slug
sliming through contorted hair cap.
Here, I can say “unwanted pregnancy” at 16.
Trouble was, this forest was chopped already,
and the moss was soaked in blood and chemicals
that suspended my life between the branches
of shadows and shade. This one, still,
was not wanted. It would not be a nurse log,
not a natural bridge over a creek.
In fact, not wanted even more.
I’d rather have stripped tree bark from myself
and woven a basked with it. Can you not want
something or someone even more
after you know of its roots?
Can you uncount tree rings on a stump
and unwind its record of beetle larvae infestations
and winter storms?
Turns out, yes. And with No regrets.
Glacier brushes winter into shadows and light.
My footsteps clack over stones
on the riverbank like an old wagon
traveling on ancient roads.
Everything is softening.
The ice sweats, history peels back.
The deer’s jawbone rests atop a log
like a half-forgotten treasure.
This stench of disappearing is all around us,
and back home, news of mass graves, no funeral
this rusting of our glorious age. Yet out here
there’s a chance encounter with a sleek otter
heading into the willow. This loud silence
is a vaccine if I listen close enough.