Table of contents
Poem / Counterpoint

Born of “All That Good”

An Indigenous poet-anthropologist and new mother interrogates the idea that, overall, historic Indigenous boarding schools brought a lot of “good.”
A photograph features a person with short, wavy hair holding a child near an ocean with a bright line shining from the background, blowing out an otherwise dark image.

“Born of ‘All That Good’” is part of the collection Indigenizing What It Means to Be Human. Read the introduction to the collection here.

Born of "All That Good" - Listen

I keep Noah on my chest
in case of flooding.      Perhaps
a wetter sex. An ark capable
bearing that I grow
weary and wearily

roughly the red stream
small and smaller
the bodies called to their salvation

wearily wearily wearily wearily—

Perhaps a paddle
skin thick and aged      aging,

Extra bones
those ark-bound wished to stay
buried under smaller houses.

Certain shells for modest
graves and always extra
teeth on the line.

How many now lie buried? How many now have we
found? How many have been saved
to lift the higher ground?

This time too
a basket
in case she might be Moses.

Stone, yes. Water too. She will want
for nothing she is not born
to carry. She will not
ask twice ::

Feathered chest
she will reach the shore
she courses.

She will row this far
and again
she will sing
so she chooses ::

a clay bird full of holes
she will know how to make

I cradle a sea
below my last rib

by any other name
a saint
one saved
a swelling

coming for all that good wrought
by all the god’s men.

Abigail Chabitnoy is the author of In the Current Where Drowning Is Beautiful (forthcoming, Wesleyan 2022); How to Dress a Fish, shortlisted for the 2020 International Griffin Prize for Poetry and winner of the 2020 Colorado Book Award; and the linocut illustrated chapbook Converging Lines of Light. She currently teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts low-residency MFA program and is an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Chabitnoy is a member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak, Alaska. She has an MFA in poetry and a B.A. in English and anthropology.


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