Heid E. Erdrich has authored three poetry collections including National Monuments from Michigan State University Press and Fishing for Myth from New Rivers Press. She also authored The Mother’s Tongue, Salt Publishing’s Earthworks series, and co-edited Sister Nations: Native American Women on Community, Minnesota Historical Society Press.
A member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibway, Heid grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota. She earned degrees from Dartmouth College and The Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars. She and her sister Louise Erdrich recently co-founded a non-profit clearinghouse for indigenous language-centered literature called Birchbark House.
The Way To
In the dimly lit cosmos of the body
one egg turns planet-like, its gravity
draws currents through a woman
like tide pull in caves by the sea.
Try to keep such images revolving
when even benevolent passion
seems too close, ironic, unnatural.
Not one of your girlfriends will ever
describe the actual moment:
How her eyes might have wavered,
tilted to his, her chin a perfect emblem,
sweet offering of someone wholly else,
and a bondage gone to willingly.
Certainly no one mentions
the little fear cries. Aloud or silent,
who knows for sure.
Some women hear both at once
Not me! And the twin call let me!
The risk of stage fright’s greater
the bigger the production.
Forget what it is you mean to do.
Make dinner. Pay bills. Wash the car.
The moment will come upon you.
He closes your eyes with kisses,
Aims his love and you pray he misses,
then you unpray for days.
– “The Way To” by Heid Erdrich, as it appears in her book of poems The Mother’s Tongue, published by Salt Publishing. Reprinted here with permission from the author.