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Nightwandering Around Ishkeesh, Leece Oliver

We step softly through the willow seeds, the spindly bird-wing blades fluttering down to crunch under our boots. The air bites cool against our necks, the way the mosquitoes are starting to prick and pluck away at us.

We hold hands, walking in sync without words. The feeling of the world filling us flows like the river waters we walk alongside.

They tell of the lady of the river, the way the river is a sacred woman’s hair holding worldcreating spirit/s.

I want to feel her power, I tell you, to feel her cool grip on my hands and feet and ankles as I slowly enter her tendrils,

Knowing I must ask her permission before just taking from the vastness of her wealth.

This riverbed is a resting place, a body of transition taking souls across and into worlds of olden new.

The fries flick around the eel grass, showing how worlds of water and land can merge when meadows are drowned.

The lady of the river whispers to us, trickling her softness through your hair as it waves like hers does,

The shining ripples of the darkness there mimicking the lurking of her depths.

I take you closer to her, stepping lightly off the trail.

You kiss my cheek,

Besitos gracing sacredness,

Mortal acknowledging deity,

Worlds merging as we walk together.

So much liminality,

So much... transgression of falling,

Of fallen.

“Kaaykâayha, kaaykâayha.”

We get closer to the edge of the water, that meeting place of cool and rough,

Until the smell.

Until the swarming.

Fur clinging to earth, rotting flesh like moss,

The creature’s head, or the place it should be,

rises to meet us with eyeless gaze.

Suddenly we hear the shrieks.

Like sirens buzzing up the valley, these are no bird calls.

Bluejay is no longer the only one yelling in this forest.

Kaaykâayha of jest turns ikcháaxva of the hunt

We are not alone here.


Leece Oliver is a Two-Spirit, trans*, Indigequeer thinker, creator, and graduate student. Their work, academic and otherwise, stems from their Karuk, Irish, and Slavic culture and cosmology, combining traditional stories with contemporary narratives to rewrite horror stories from perspectives of those who have continually gone through the end of worlds.

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