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Native Memories

I never used to pick up hitchhikers,
Until I was the hitchhiker
And I got picked up.
I'll pick hikers up,
If they look innocent enough.
Who would r@pe someone bigger than they?
Tulalip means hitchhikers,
And hitchhikers are usually Indian,
And the Indians are usually my cousins,
Thus I usually pick them up.
I, too, hated waiting
An hour for the bus.

I drove in the van with
An invisible woman, a spirit.
And we talked for many minutes
Before she left,
With her long black braids
Flowing in the gracious wind.
“Come visit me sometime,” I hollered.
She promised she would
And disappeared into the bay.
I know that she knew where I lived.

Back when the marina had a store,
John and I
Would gather up all our change
And buy:
Four packs of gum,
A candy bar,
Something to drink
And an ice cream cone.
All to share.
Prices were cheap ‘cause
We were Indian.
Then we'd walk down to the bay,
Sit on a log on the shore
And watch the
Eagle's fish.
We'd eat our goodies,
Share our drink,
And chew our gum while listening
To the waves
Wash upon the shore.
When we'd get home,
We'd smell like Tulalip bay.

I used to have dreams about
Swimming with the orcas.
I enjoyed this dream,
But wish it were real.
Then I
Found out I was
Astral projecting;
My soul was swimming with the orcas,
And that
Was as good
As real.

A native's death
Is a very sacred one.
I have been to too many funerals
To know this.

Mom always hears owls;
I think they are
Bred into her soul,
Letting their voices nest within her ears.
I used to concentrate
On listening to owls warning
When I used to
Go out for a late night cigarette.
I'd hear nothing.
I quit smoking
When I go out to get
Something out of the van,
Its hoots
Chill my soul.

My gramma's father,
My great grandfather,
Lent his name to a lake.
Ross lake.
It's shaped like a heart,
It's the heart of the rez.
I raise my hands to him.
Gramma tells,
“He use to take me to the lake
And say,
‘This is my lake,' and it was a
Long time before I knew
What he was talking about.”
Unlike my siblings,
And cousins,
I always listened and remembered gramma's precious words.

My mom almost drowned at
Kayak beach,
When she was a little girl.
Those waters,
Tulalip's waters,
Are haunted.
Fishermen have died there,
Their souls
Pulling down new victims
To keep them company.

I've walked the lands where
My gramma and her family used to live.
There is nothing
But a f---ing clinic there now.
No house, nothing but a clinic
With mediocre doctors
Who'd tell ya you had cancer
When you had a sinus infection.
The tribe sure
Scrapped the bottom of the barrel
Looking for creepy doctors who were good at
Misdiagnosing symptoms.
The place
Where my great grandfather used to
Walk to work is still standing,
Though barely.
The apple tree my gramma used to
Play on is still there.
Maybe that's all that matters.

When I stand by the two small portable buildings
By the small hatcheries,
I can almost see the Tulalip boarding school,
I can almost see
The souls of the pastors and children
Who stood there, idly
Waiting for the picture to be taken,
And waiting for their lives to be changed.

Once upon a time,
Dad and I went for a walk
On the beach,
When the tide
Was going out.
Dad rambled on about something,
And I was in the fifth grade.
We walked forever,
Until we
Came across
An elks head (only!) sitting
On a lifeless log.
It had no eyes; you could see
Through to its brain.
It's mouth was slightly agape
And I remember wondering why there was no blood.
Female, no antlers.
Dad and I walked on, he didn't seem phased
By this.
“What does it mean?” I asked into the wind.
I got no answers.
That elk head still haunts my dreams.
Three months after seeing it,
My depression got the worst of me
And I tried overdosing on pills but
Just slept for hours. I can do nothing right.
I've hated myself for that ever since.
I was eleven,
It was an Indian sign.

Someone once asked me what it meant to be native American.

“What does it mean to be white?”

February 9, 2004

*Thor2 liked the first poem I did in this style (Mnemonic) so I wrote her another one to see if she liked this one as well. She has sparked thought!

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