Watch Face


Dowsing the rain crow,
I walked late of old habit.

Black strap molasses
night strolls—sweet
with a bite of bone
marrow at the center.

I was chasing upmountain,
out hunting the margins—

Scarce Creek
absconding down
the north face of Si
where I once sniffed
a sorrel colt’s birth drop.

The turquoise watch
I walked in wearing
swapped with garish
plastic bangles signaling
risk of fall and rejection.


Playing the dozens
inside the canals
of my nerves, one hand
tapping out against
the safety rails
before fainting
like bailing off
a green broke horse
along rodeo arena rails.

I entreated flush walls:
Where was my son?

Rappelling bedward
on the very lick
of midnight’s leaving,
I reaped arrows
from the courage watch
ticking along
the perimeters
of my corneas.


Scape wheels crenelated
the alarum mechanism at my navel
with clean new fangs.

I didn’t have any say in all this,
but I begged for it. Let any ancestor
string me like an arrow then loose me
from exile’s spit-soaked bow.

Where is the IV pole
so I might walk three
mincing circuits along
the twilight hallway?

Where is my benevolent
guide? Where is my call
button? Where is the buckskin vest traced
with my auntie’s lazystitch hummingbirds?


Bandages, pillows, then towels
braced against my guts. My joints
stove up crackling with scar tissue.

Who can I speak with
about bartering
back the minutes?

I can’t think about it now
without my hands shaking.


Battering my legs
back to rhythm
my stride laid
phantom tines,
tracking a sharp o’clock.

I once walked miles
to see the intricacies
of a plaza clock
engraved with symbols
of the twelve-gated city;
so singular it apocryphally
cost the maker his dominant hand.

Exiled, skirting, probing
the ascetic territories
of eminent domain.

Where is the heavenly city’s weakest gate?
Where is the clockmaker?
Where is my cutting horse with the bright white medicine hat?


Slender silk cords
veiled inside the mechanism
compel table clock automata
to dance, eat, converse, butcher,
kiss, swim, rape, harvest.

The cherub traces
the sun’s peregrination—
fingers trailing zodiac symbols,
closing the day standing
above incised memento mori.

The running maiden
evades the galloping soldier
so long as the fingers wind.

Laura Da’

Laura Da’ is a poet and teacher. A lifetime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Da’ studied creative writing at the University of Washington and The Institute of American Indian Arts. Da’ is Eastern Shawnee. She is the author of Tributaries, winner of the American Book Award, and Instruments of the True Measure, winner of the Washington State Book Award. Da’ lives near Seattle with her husband and son and is a writer-in-residence at Richard Hugo House.

Hailey Renee Brown

Hailey Renee Brown is a freelance illustrator born and raised in Mid Michigan. With a bachelor’s in Zoology, she spent years formerly working as a field biologist. Moving across the country to the east coast, she also moved from science to art and graduated from The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. Hailey works as a freelance colorist and illustrator for a wide assortment of clientele, including comic anthologies, fantasy authors, and Dynamite Entertainment.

First Featured In: No. 17, winter 2020

The Memory Issue

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