Aanteekwa’s Epistle to Steelville

You may say that I am off, but tell me:
what is on to you? Last I checked,
the switch handle in my chest mounted
at the intersection of muscle and veins remains
permanently erect at an angle of precisely 65
degrees. Ergo, I am forever stuck on, in
more ways than you will ever know.

You may hide your disdain for me in whispers,
your fear for me in furtive sidewinder sidelong
glances. You giggle and point, thinking that I do not
see. You cross the street when I approach from the other
direction. You tell your children to avoid me. Is
all of this because I struggle to connect my
broken gaze to your own, or because I flap my hands
when the red diesel dragons careen down my
street? Is it because I tell you the truth about
the steel mill that shits clandestine, multihued
declarations of its own guilt into the creek that flows
behind it? Or, is it because I will gladly tell you
who my messengers are – dead poets and dead Indians
who live invisible beyond the tips of your fingers
and the jagged edges of your rumors?

Those dead poets and Indians have given to me
a few outrageous gifts. I have eaten the sun. I have
melted the brittle moon, pale and wanton, upon my hungry
and once nearly voiceless tongue. And I have swallowed
a river into my belly so that I may give birth to
words, like the ones you hear when I tell you that
the river is dying: haven’t you always known that
the mill is a joyless, concrete mother that birthed this town
as a gaggle of soot-smeared bastard children? We nurse
at her teats, feeding on coke dust and fumes, coughing up
curses and choking down this ashen life: is it too much
to ask that she account for her sins?

I myself have found another outrageous gift: I
spread my fingers and allow lustful, angelic
sunlight to slide through the webs between my
fingers. When I flap my hands – when I fly –
I become crow, and the sunlight drips between my
feathers. Before you dismiss me as a raven lunatic, I
want you to hold up your hands, feel this sunlight filter
itself between your fingers, and know that this is God,
too. This is my gift to you, and no matter how you
treat me or what you do to me, I will just keep praying
that one day, you will find the courage to drink the
sun: and when you do, do not be surprised if you find
your own internal switch turned on, its lever arm raised up
to greet the cascade of lambent light that enters your
inner sanctum. Then you will understand that
you were the ones who were really off.

Written 6/27/13
© 2013 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.

This poem was written for We Write Poems Prompt # 163: Found Treasure. I feel that Aanteekwa’s story has come to a satisfactory end. She has found her treasure. As a whole in the Steelville poems, her journey will continue. So will Nick’s. So will Rachel’s (somewhat). But more on this later.

Here are the other poems in the series:


Stumble It!
Stumble It!

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About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
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12 Responses to Aanteekwa’s Epistle to Steelville

  1. This is absolutely fantastic Nicole, so raw and personal. I can relate to a good deal of this as well

  2. julespaige says:

    Every ending is just another beginning. I am happy to have shared this journey with you. Thank you for your visits. My last piece in this series is here:

  3. Irene says:

    I have eaten the sun. I have
    melted the brittle moon, pale and wanton, upon my hungry
    and once nearly voiceless tongue.

    Wonderful gift. And there is the sense that the story continues.

  4. I have a prompt at my blog and you are most welcome to participate if you’d like, it would be an honor. Right now the prompt is Literary Idols

  5. Hi mindlovemisery: thanks for the invite. I’ve seen some of your prompts but I barely have time to write for the WWP prompts. Someday I’ll have to visit yours. 🙂

  6. Thank you. I feel so much of this would be my words too, since Aanteekwa is based on me and I grew up in “Steelville”. A few years ago, I’d written a poem called “Off” that appears in my chapbook word – I just expanded on the woman the speaker was describing in the poem and turned her into more of a real person than a rumor,

    I’m glad you enjoyed reading the series. Storytelling through poetry is always a challenge.


  7. Very true…now I have to figure out where Aanteekwa goes from here. Thanks for riding along with me. 🙂

  8. Thank you, Irene. And that’s exactly the thing – Aanteekwa’s story will go on, I’m not sure how or why yet, but that’s the fun of discovery, isn’t it? Although, I think Nick’s story seems to be asking to be picked up again now…we shall see.


  9. I would love to read that! Off is a perfect title I could definitely write poem about myself called Off.

  10. Pamela says:

    Nicole, it has been a wonderful journey with you on the epic poem series. I thank you for your continued support throughout. I like that your character has somewhere to go in her continuum.


  11. Thank you. This has been a real adventure for all of us. 🙂

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