Footpath passing a school,
undiscovered by a nun
black at her blackboard’s explanation
of Vanishing Americans’ vanishing, I find myself
flagged, by two not quite red rows,
unfurled into grin, two white, and by one
five-pointed, pale star.
My lips let my teeth pledge allegiance,
again, my fingers orbiting their own warmth,
around this pen,
as straight as Old Glory’s tall pole, but
admittedly, ingloriously smaller, and,
as the star descends, it draws,
from Christian calendars’ precision constellations,
a child—hand cramped
from fisting fact onto dusty black
clutching a wand,
to draw him Everywhere.
Though the teacher scowls
us back to my dead, risen from
The Trail of Tears
this day before Thanksgiving Day; a child
will lead, as I finish taking my walk.
Ralph Salisbury, “Passing Rez School the Day Before Thanksgiving Day, Unoriginal Sin and a Redskin Pilgrim’s Retrogression” from Rainbows of Stone. Copyright © 2000 by Ralph Salisbury. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.
Source: Rainbows of Stone
(University of Arizona Press, 2000)