Two Poems

Poetry / Moira J., or Gaagé Dat’éhe

:: Courtship Between an Ice Machine and a Swimming Pool ::

On a Wednesday moon, I am a little motel off 8th and Antler,
hosting various salted forms at the bottoms of old bathtubs.

Here they are docked bodies, their ocean breath raising bubbles 
to the surface, while their hair clippings float like amorphous spit, 

blood-speckles carrying the twilight of shimmering bathwater on
tile floors—a sinking ship of modesty with wood rot. A parade 

of wolves are on the way to mourn their queen who is carved 
from black tourmaline, her steady eyes considering the womb of 

apology as a serial killer rinses his elbows in a rust-riddled sink, 
his eyes molting the reds and oranges until he cannot tell if blood 

should oxidize at such a rapid rate of decay, wondering when he will 
next visit the bones of his victims, their simpish mouths a soft echo 

from a neighboring room’s air-conditioning vent. He shivers and all 
the guests feel the tingling spine snake crawl into their sheets, 

the humidity in their beds hanging like tropical storms with bad city 
planning for evacuation. Everyone here cannot sleep but their dreams

pour out like the tepid coffee in Styrofoam cups, muddled and waiting
for lips to remember what it was to growl and hum—angry cubs that

are missing their mothers. I grow into infinite rooms where capacity
has lacked a number but acts as a gimlet within my grip, I hear a 

woman asking to live forever while her husband chews on ice chips,
their debts blinking around the bushes outside like lightning bugs.


:: The Accession to Home ::

That spring morning when I saw you, a glass moon still hung

at the epicenter of the sky, a beaconing womb of cornsilk.

Be of slow love. If I had come to you that night, I would’ve wished
	for you to carry me to the river, laying our spent

bodies like fish carcasses on the skipping stones, and I would predict
	our future: long afternoons with warm cola, two people sleeping
	on a twin mattress without a frame, our spines

	curved like gentle mountains meeting halfway.

Instead, you burned porcupine quills and tattooed the high priestess
	on my arm—kissing it clean with your mouth, an angler’s
	lips raw with ink and prophetic distances

	between us. Your eyes were pits of dried leaves on a summer
pool, a small boy wading among the depths with body becoming
	that of a fish.

And I see you then, sitting silently in a car with rain on the window.
As I walk back to the parking garage, I think of how you will learn 

to study my mouth when I talk, and how when we sleep your arms wind 
         around my body like a snake strangling a field mouse, and how I 
         gladly welcomed that suffocation,

	offering my skin as a second sheet.
	Come closer, let me share the warmth below.


From the writer

:: Account ::

“Courtship Between an Ice Machine and Swimming Pool” is the best way I could create an homage to my many experiences being in cheap motels as a child. I carried an abundance of fear anytime I spent time in one, usually after meeting different lawyers because of my parents’ multiple custody battles, or on the way to family funerals. Finding ways to cope with the anxiety and confusion turned into people-watching, particularly sitting on the bed with the curtains open, looking at people arrive and leave in their cars.

“The Accession to Home” recounts the time I saw my ex-partner again, having not seen each other for six years. We have known each other since I was 14 years old, and they were a terrible partner during our youth. We immediately began to see each other again after that encounter and have been married for three years now. I wanted to illustrate the difficulties we experienced together, through being broke and living in a small studio apartment with only a mattress on the floor, but refusing to negate the love we nurtured for survival.


Moira J., or Gaagé Dat’éhe (Quiet Crow), is an Indigenous writer who explores being agender, queer, and biracial. Their writing examines these relationships through poetry, origin stories, and creative nonfiction. Moira J.’s work has been published in Girls Get Busy Zine, Naugatuck River Review, Rising Phoenix Review, Bayou Magazine, and more. You can keep updated on Moira J. by going to, or find them on Twitter @moira__j.