“How the Milky Way was Made” by Natalie Diaz

How the Milky Way was Made

My river was once unseparated. Was Colorado. Red-
fast flood. Able to take

anything it could wet—in a wild rush—

all the way to Mexico.

Now it is shattered by fifteen dams
over one-thousand four-hundred and fifty miles,

pipes and pumps filling
swimming pools and sprinklers

in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

To save our fish, we lifted them from our skeletoned river beds,
loosed them in our heavens, set them aster—

‘Achii ‘ahan, Mojave salmon,

Colorado pikeminnow—

Up there they glide, gilled with stars.
You see them now—

god-large, gold-green sides,

moon-white belly and breast—

making their great speeded way across the darkest hours,
rippling the sapphired sky-water into a galaxy road.

The blurred wake they drag as they make their path
through the night sky is called

‘Achii ‘ahan nyuunye—

our words for Milky Way.

Coyote too is up there, crouched in the moon,
after his failed attempt to leap it, fishing net wet

and empty, slung over his back—

a prisoner blue and dreaming

of unzipping the salmon’s silked skins with his teeth.
O, the weakness of any mouth

as it gives itself away to the universe

of a sweet-milk body.

Just as my own mouth is dreamed to thirst
the long desire-ways, the hundred-thousand light year roads

of your throat and thighs.



Natalie Diaz

Natalie Diaz, “How the Milky Way Was Made”
© 2015 by Natalie Diaz

Denis Degioanni on Unsplash

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