Tia Blais-Billie responds to “Morning Joe” by Jonathan Nelson (2019)

Cast warm into the ground

Palpable taste of earthen colors
ground down into my cup
I smack my lips, a lingering taste
now mixing with the air

Patterns seen throughout the land,
woven through my wool and clothes
an echo of the land’s design

Comfort in solid shapes
on solid ground
ground that raises warmth,
like the tickle on my chin

The mountains and rock
cast the same deep shadows
as my hooves where they meet the earth
(planted and firm)

I look out beyond, eyes new and shielded
by my sturdy brim
they trace along long juts and curves,
long patterns of the sky

My gaze is guided far, then farther
I wonder how far they go
is there another sheep across
this stretch of orange hues?

Is their mug heated, grasped in hoof
taking in this time and day
the earth for them stable beneath
long tracings of their gaze

Or maybe they are gazing back
facing back towards me
the shadow that they cast
stretching, stretching
across the miles,
and reaching

If our shapes meet as they are
cast warm into the ground,
they’ll quickly blend right into one
seamless, unavowed

They would be a single shape
facing up into the sky
the cutouts having found a match,
flowing line to line

I dig my hooves deep in the sand,
searching for that shadowed reach
I hope the shape that I create
flows well enough with theirs

Finally, another sip
before I turn around
my wool has warmed enough for now
it will keep me going fine

And one last look about the land
while I’m slowly trudging back,
feeling each connection that I can
even ones felt out of place

There are some less intrinsic shapes
and colors and patterns and lines,
but they are whispers, faded out
in the face of orange light

— Tia Blais-Billie

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