Sunday, September 19, 2010

14 poets read from SGVPQ 47

Elizabeth Arana

“There is nothing as white as the white girl
an Indian boy loves.” -- Distances, Sherman Alexie

We jumped the knotted
wood fence and laid
like lizards
on the Reservation
rocks. I watched the desert
sun fancydance
across the bronze
of your skin, each closed-fist
kiss your Daddy gave you
its own zip code on your

I wondered how long
I would have to lay there
until I would be brown
enough for you to
love me. We kept one eye
open for your mother.
The other we closed,
and set about
making our temples a
little less holy.

Father Sun to turn
alabaster into bronze,
we sheathed our tongues
in words like “Apache”,
“warrior”, and “tribal identity”.

I said I want to be Minnehaha.
You said I should stick to Minnie
Mouse. I said it would take a
strong warrior to steal me
away. You said it would
take a strong horse.

I said, “two weeks late”,
“free clinic”, “i’m sure.”

You said nothing.

Your mother said,
“goodbye note”, “bus ticket”.

My mother said “quit school”,
“factory”, “full-time”.

Years later, I passed
your mother by the
factory gate, the chainlink
fence casting a shadowed
grid on her face, slicing
it into tidy squares
of ambivalence.

She said, “murder”, “29 to
life” and “visitation allowed”.

At Folsom I said,
“I needed you”, “I don’t

You said Father Sun had
been kind to me.

Now the fence is barbed
wire, but it’s still me on
one side, you on the other
and between us, suspended
like frozen particles of light, all
the reasons why you ran
until the road ran out, why you
could never love me, and
why the fence that
tears me apart is
the one I can’t stop

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