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What the Light Would Say
Dale Ritterbusch


In the language of the Dakota
um pa o wasta we
beautiful daybreak woman.
I imagine a Dakota warrior
returning from the hunt
to a woman lying in the light
of early morning, and the warrior
slips in next to her, touches her face
and says the words
that tighten her arms around him.
When I touch your face
in the half-light of early morning
I have nothing to bring you—
no talisman or wild boar, no stories,
nothing but the fall of my hand
upon your shoulders brushing away
stray threads of raven hair
making way for a small kiss
in the breath of a light breeze.
And my breath speaks in a language
I no longer understand,
where any word I might say
in the most inarticulate resonance
of a touch breaks and burns
like a covey of birds rising to the sun,
rising until their feathers become light
and every wingbeat sings
as I reach my arms around you
O beautiful daybreak woman.

From Far From the Temple of Heaven (Black Moss Press, 2005)
Used with the author's permission.


Dale Ritterbusch writes poems about baseball and other sports. Reflective of his strange psychology, he is a fan of both the Vikings and the Packers. He is the author of Lessons Learned, a collection of poems on the Vietnam War and its aftermath, and Far From the Temple of Heaven. He is Professor of Languages and Literatures at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and served as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the United States Air Force Academy in 2004-05.


Post New Comment:
I missed this poem, until today. And now the phrase "beautiful daybreak woman" will live with me. Kay
Posted 02/10/2015 06:54 AM
aahhhh, perfect...
Posted 02/08/2015 09:01 AM
beautiful gentle poem for Valentine's Day or any day
Posted 02/08/2015 08:08 AM
What a lovely poem
Posted 02/08/2015 01:57 AM
Sharon Urdahl:
Posted 02/08/2015 01:03 AM
Beautiful whispers.
Posted 02/07/2015 11:39 PM
Posted 02/07/2015 11:21 PM

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