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.
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 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.
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