In the Hush-a-Bye Night

By Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb


The cool sandy wash is alive,
with the buzz of a solitary bee,
the scarlet morning awake,
sun peeking through jagged
mountains, distance rising east
like the hope of spring. I drift
through a silty corridor collecting
litter—plastic bottles, shreds
of bedding, fragments of fence,
empty bullet casings, a dropped
or forgotten small knife, blade
blooming lifelike straight up
from the dry desert earth.

Nearby are fresh remnants
of steps—so many footprints,
signs of pressure, of running,
of changing territory. My feet
anticipate direction even before
eyes land on the shadow
of an exposed, gnarled root
and, within, the curled, dead
newborn, damp blood red,
torn cloth white, lips deep blue,
umbilical cord cut, skin cold
and gray cradled by the ground.

I dare not touch
what I can’t understand,
but I think about a woman
who goes into labor
when in flight, a mother who
gives birth in the hush-a-bye
night while others wait,
vulnerable and impatient for her
womb to transfer its burden
onto the layers of sediment.
And I wonder what purpose
it would serve for me to report
evidence to support the truth
in all those so-called myths
engendered by the magnified
motion of human migration.


Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb’s poetry has appeared in Blue Heron Review, Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal, Bird’s Thumb, Aji Magazine, Sliver of Stone Magazine, Spectrum, Dark Matter: A Journal of Speculative Writing, Wilderness House Literary Review, The Blueline Anthology (Syracuse University Press), A Journal of the Built and Natural Environments, Kudzu House Quarterly, Pedestal Magazine, and other journals and online forums, with poetry forthcoming in the anthology, Talking Back and Looking Forward: Poetry and Prose for Social Justice in Education (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Fall 2015), Red River Review, Caesura, and others. A past Pushcart Prize nominee, she holds an interdisciplinary MA from Prescott College and is co-founder of Native West Press, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit natural history press (which seeks to raise public awareness of some of our non-charismatic creatures with whom we share the American West).