From WHEREAS [“WHEREAS When Offered...”]

By Layli Long Soldier

WHEREAS when offered an apology I watch each movement the shoulders
high or folding, tilt of the head both eyes down or straight through
me, I listen for cracks in knuckles or in the word choice, what is it
that I want? To feel and mind you I feel from the senses—I read
each muscle, I ask the strength of the gesture to move like a poem.
Expectation’s a terse arm-fold, a failing noun-thing
I scold myself in the mirror for holding.

Because I learn from young poets. One sends me new work spotted
with salt crystals she metaphors as her tears. I feel her phrases,
“I say,” and “Understand me,” and “I wonder.”

Pages are cavernous places, white at entrance, black in absorption.

If I’m transformed by language, I am often
crouched in footnote or blazing in title.
Where in the body do I begin;