Wednesday Jun 19

BuffingtonPaige Paige Buffington’s family is originally from Tohatchi, New Mexico, a small town on the Eastern portion of the Navajo Nation. She is Navajo, of the Bear Enemies clan born for White People. She received a BFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in 2013 and an MFA with a focus in poetry in 2015. Paige is a recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship. Her work has appeared in Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art and Hinchas de Poesia. Her poem, “All American Poem,” published by Narrative was named best Western poem by Western Writers of America for the 2016 year. She currently lives in Gallup, New Mexico.

Away From Home

Children run in Nike Airs, in Converse or barefoot, break dirt
backbones of dry washes, skeletons of cattle. This is where you are—

where you asked Cheii for the name of sudden spring storms, what happened to the twins left
alone in the car. They’re buried near the yellow brush—you can see where the earth was broken from where you are.

The trailer in Pinedale is sun-faded, abandoned now. You slept beside dogs beneath a truck
camper, nobody checked or asked where you are. Do they still ask? Where you are;

black horses run until they’re mistaken for monsoons, manes tangle in electricity lines.
Children tiptoe to touch coal hooves. Death spins like ornaments along highways where you are—

Snow backbones the New Mexico/Arizona stateline. Young men shoot wild horses, two hundred
dollars a head. The babies need food and diapers. Truck beds filled with broken bodies where
you are—

You still see Cheii watch deer shake first snow from their ears, still hear his sisters say, I wish he
didn’t eat sweets, potatoes so much. You know, he always asked where you are.

For years, you’ve walked counter-clockwise through homes, struggled to remember what to
say when you brush your hair at night. You’ve looked for the hanging chains of basketball hoops close to where you are.

You once shook the hand of the man who named the holy skin behind the ear. Is this the word
for planet or that sacred, soft skin? Paige, you can’t remember from where you are.


Because You Are Magic, I Refuse to Admit the Last Place I Saw You

was in the parking lot of a Costco.
In Albuquerque. The Q, Burque—
in October, when the leaves are dying, when the river exposes his backbone
and when the grey cranes move somewhere further south.
You, in the truck cab, feet resting on a metal milk crate,
said you couldn’t see the flock, asked me to tie your shoes,
to pull the net over paper plates towering in the truck bed,
if I wanted the leftover breadsticks for the drive north.

Sometimes I wonder if you saw the faint line of several winged bodies,
if you chose not to watch their silent, grey migration.
I wonder if you hear me call Olive Garden my sacred place—
watch me throw it roses, carnations and knitting needles from I-25,
if you watch me bow my head each time I crawl up a truck’s rusted bed
as if entering a ceremony, a mud-floored church.

At times, I wonder if you can feel this hymn of wind-filled plastic bags,
a shallow river
swelling in my throat.