Pottery Lessons by Jennifer Elise Foerster

hokte      hokte       honvnwv
begin here 
with the clay she says
under her breath   a handful of earth
from silt-bottomed streams
loosens between fingers   water
echoes in an empty
               bowl   hokte
   hoktet hecet os
I was birthed of mud   blood
and bone    hokte
hoktet  hecet os
glass globes
inside my tin belly   echo of
water in an empty bowl
I remember the sound of her soft
body      hokte
         hokte     honvnwv
Have just begun
to bleed today
thought I might be dying  
walked barefoot beyond the backyard  
over the cattleguard    hokte
                                          hokte     honvnwv
each grass blade a rusted
glint  in the circular
basin of bison grazing  
clay rims the water colored
sky   in the empty bowl   water
echoes   when we walk  
horizons shift    
how to call them
closer     feel their white tufts
between fingertips


hokte   honvnwv

Muscogee language:
  hokte: woman
  honvnw: man
  hecet os: to see


Contributor Notes

“Pottery Lessons” and “Outskirts” are from my “Magdalena” series—a book-length sequence of poems exploring my relationship with America as ghost, landscape, and story. The poems are written in conversation with Magdalena, who may be myself, as I once was, or who may also be America—the land itself—as it once was, and as it has become.

Jennifer Elise Foerster received her MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts (July 2007) and her BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico (2003). She has received fellowships to attend Soul Mountain Retreat, the Naropa Summer Writing Program, the Idyllwild Summer Poetry Program, Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, and the Vermont Studio Center. From 2008-2010, Jennifer was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. Her poetry has been published in Ploughshares, Passages North, Many Mountains Moving, and Drunken Boat, among other journals. Of German, Dutch, and Muscogee descent, she is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma. Jennifer lives in San Francisco where she works as a freelancer for non-profit development. She is currently working on a chronicle of poems in Muscogee, German, and English.