Waorani Legend (With Appropriation)
In throngs of roots around sangre de drago trees sleep bones of girls bagged inland,
drugged, & brought downstream to sell & buy again in Coca. Their glow beneath a full
moon spells the rainy season & they rise like clotted cream, mushroomed from
The woman, bone-skinned & Canadian paid a team of mud-fleshed men to paddle her per
diem to these little graves. Hammocked on a sheet, grunts swung her to the open air
resort where gasoline fueled fans brushed jungle air into a poetry of salamander-grey
mosquito nets. She slid her silvery fat-soft land fish hands between the map’s blue legs,
opened unclasped money clips—green as selva paste flown in from Gringolandia.
She bartered cigarettes & rum for her quaint acquisitions: artisania from our shop
amid tacked posters under jaundiced glass of horse-shouldered grandmothers orphan
spider monkeys, marmosets, & sloths in smoke hut common houses—it’s open to turistas
We heard her party tramping sweat & flattening a hunting ditty used to hammer
out the night. She stabbed a spoon into the earth & fished clean teeth from under
roots. She ate the leaf-clod dirt. She stuck a knife into a tree & cleaved white jaws
from root. She cranked the blade, shaved knuckles from our girls right at their finger’s foot.
She knifed a girl with root-dark fingers, ate raw bone, left on foot. She fingered roots
& walked into the river, sheet in hand. She walked a bag of bone chips to the shore. A
bag of bone chips in her hand to bless her, bless your bones. Absolve your worries
in our shop.
She came here broken, ate our bones, & walked.
Lauren Brazeal’s first full-length collection of poetry Gutter was published by Yes Yes Books in 2018, and her individual poems and fiction have appeared in journals such as Verse Daily, Smartish Pace, Barrelhouse & Diagram. She is currently working on her second full-length collection of poetry, written at the behest of the Waorani people (an indigenous tribe in Amazonian Ecuador that she has worked with for the past 15 years).