Poetry Collaboration: “Archeology as Prayer” by Amy Ash & Callista Buchen

Let us breathe the dust that was once bone,
how we taste the sweat, the steps. We
kneel before the altar of night, stars carved
into pattern. It is one of those things, we say.

You hear us sift through shadow and dust. We
try to tell you what we need, what we want:
artifact and ruin, the precious mosquito
that will answer what our voices gather

and swerve. When we tire, we let someone else
do the finding. The meaningless sieve, our
hats wilted from work or discovery. Rough
calligraphy of scar on stone, we worry

our identity into theft. Decay and cadence, we
are fragments and resin. Someone shows us
photos of a bobcat perched on a 40-foot cactus.
Why climb so high? In what stone will this record?

Still, we believe. The sand, the wind. What walks
and falls, and walks again. We lie down and listen, shovels
in our hands, ready for the flash and collapse of sand.

Amy Ash is an assistant professor at Indiana State University. She is the author of the poetry collection The Open Mouth of the Vase (Cider Press Review, 2015), which won the 2013 Cider Press Review Book Award.

Callista Buchen is an assistant professor at Franklin College. She is the author of the chapbooks The Bloody Planet (Black Lawrence Press, 2015) and Double-Mouthed (dancing girl press, 2016). Her collaborative work with Amy Ash has appeared in various journals, including Heron Tree, Spiral Orb, Stone Highway Review, and BOAAT.

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