In Hidatsa they called her
“bird woman,” Sacagawea,
her brother’s voice fading
“grass maiden,” Boinaiv, into the night.
Her black hair was as long as this
night, stolen from her people, galloping
until sunrise when she could for the first
time see this man’s streaked face
who had taken her
hair around his wrist like a rope
and pulled her whole body
onto the back of his painted horse.
Had she been a bird, she would’ve
pecked his dark eyes like seeds.
Boinaiv! They rode too fast for her
to look back. She had to lean into
the heat of her enemy’s body, spread
her legs around his horse, clasp
his waist, open her lungs to breathe
his stench. For many snows, each time
her new name called, she wished
she had let go, had let her body crash
to the grass like a moon, before
it, too, learned how to break
into darkness, and return.