Deer’s Breath of Every Color

By Max Early

Winter rises southeast—
Deer gnaw withered apples
as morning star fades
above indigo canyon.

Concealed in tall feathergrass
mountain lion nestles.
His tan body, mesmerized
like a stone fetish.

Sun blazes amber rays.
Snow powders the deer trail.
A hunter whispers through mist
his flowered prayer,

Muukai-tra Hush-tseh,
Meish guy-you, gumaa-tsinee,
Mountain Lion Man,
it’s already morning, help me.

Climbing Hawk Mountain
through blue juniper terrain
mountain lion leaps,
an arrow blest with pollen.

Winter sets southwest—
Deer in shadow tinged purple
enters spruce tree house
on his breath of every color.

Photo of an Indigenous man w/short, dark hair, wearing an arrowhead necklace. He stands in front of a rock wall
Max Early is an Indigenous poet from the Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico. The author of Ears of Corn: Listen, he is an inaugural 2022 Indigenous Nations Poet (In-Na-Po).

Copyright © 2022 by Max Early. Used with permission from the American Academy of Poets.

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