If I Laid Them End to End

By Kimberly Blaeser b. 1955 Kimberly Blaeser
That old guy with the muskrat soup
slurps it loudly from the ladle
Hoowah, pretty good stuff!
You shift your weight on the stool
raise the bad leg just enough
and retrieve the red bandana hankie.
Talk still spills like sunshine
over the knife-marred counter
as slowly you wipe the can
push the cloth back in your pocket
and cough down the grape pop
glancing at the bobbing black head
where it surfaced in the pot.

The burned farm. That hungry year.
The long walk from Strawberry Mountain
warmed now with the weight
of fresh butchered wiiyaas in your pack.
Mum’s baking soda biscuits mixed and cut
lined waiting in the tin pan
like our little kids’ faces at the window.
Sure took the wrinkle out of our bellies that night.

One opening day when those two old fishermen
ended up drunk clinging to the canoe.
The hunt for diamond willow,
beaver camp on Easter weekend,
the whitefish feeding on wax worms,
the string of crappies slipped from your hand,
the missing outhouse floor,
training waaboose,
feeding the least weasel,
tales from working on the ships,
from boiling sap, planting trees, pounding, carving,
and then the cigar box memories
of those old time Indians
who could really tell stories . . .

Kimberly Blaeser, “If I Laid Them End to End” from Apprenticed to Justice. Copyright © 2007 by Kimberly Blaeser. Reprinted by permission of Salt Publishing.

Source: Apprenticed to Justice (Salt Publishing, 2007)

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Poet Kimberly Blaeser b. 1955

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Activities, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Eating & Drinking

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Kimberly   Blaeser


Poet, critic, essayist, and fiction writer Kimberly Blaeser was raised on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota by parents of Anishinaabe and German descent. She is a member of the Minnesota Chippewa tribe. Blaeser worked as a journalist before earning her PhD at the University of Notre Dame.
Blaeser’s poems offer intimate glimpses into the lives of her subjects through loose, conversational portraits of Native American . . .

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Poems by Kimberly Blaeser

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Activities, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Eating & Drinking

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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