Aida Schneider   © 2011 All Rights Reserved

Things Never Seen on My Reservation

An elephant. A white rhino. The flea
Circus. Army ants. Serial killers.
A copy of the Atlantic Monthly.
Public atheists or gabled pillars.

Breast enhancement surgery. Cable cars
Plummeting down dirt roads. A Catholic saint
Addicted to stigmata. Movie stars
On a bender. One of them goats that faints

When you clap your hands. A Pilates class.
Any fast food restaurant. A Nobel
Peace Prize winner. Hurricanes. Tear gas.
A billionaire or someone who yodels.

A jock who will appear on a box of Wheaties.
A tribal councilman who’s stopped signing treaties.
 

***

Salvation


Whatever happened to that pretty Jehovah’s Witness
                    Who used to visit me?
Red hair and blue jeans. She stood at my door
                    And proselytized a bit,
But mostly she talked about how much she wanted
                    To leave that little
College town. And though I often saw her
                    at the grocery store,
Coffee shop, and hamburger shack, we never
                    Spoke away from my place.
When I asked her why not, she said she didn’t want
                    To embarrass me in front
Of my friends, while I was afraid of how much
                    I wanted to be her possession—
Her particular sinner. Of course, there’s a long
                    History of indigenous boy
And white girl romances. It’s a mandatory part
                    Of colonialism, but I like
To think I wanted her because she was smart
                    (She worked as a biology
Lab assistant) and ambitious (she wanted to live
                    In Seattle, which seemed
At the time like the world’s largest metropolis
                    To both of us) and suspicious
Of her elders (as I have always been). But I suspect
                    I wanted her for the oldest reason:
To get revenge on the white men who dehumanized
                    Me. And I suspect
She wanted me for the same reason. But we
                    Never so much as shook hands,
And I graduated and left town without saying
                    Goodbye. I worry
That she still lives there. I worry that she married
                    A man chosen by her parents.
I worry that she has become an atheist forced
                    To spend endless hours
In church. And I wonder if she ever thinks of me.
                    Does she remember
The Indian boy who didn’t believe a word
                    She said about God, but
Believed everything she whispered about loneliness
                    And the gradual loss of faith?

 

Sherman Alexie
Copyright © 2011  

Sherman Alexie is the author of, most recently, Face, poetry, from Hanging Loose Press, and War Dances, poems and stories, from Grove Press. He lives with his family in Seattle.


Table of Contents            Next Poem            Guidelines