The Sacred Circle

By Adrian C. Louis b. 1946
Numanah, Grandfather, grant me the grace
of a new song far from this lament
of lame words and fossils of a losing game.
No more flat pebbles skimmed between the wetness
of tongue and thigh and eye again!
I never asked to be the son of a stained mattress
who contemplated venison stew and knew
the shame hidden in grease clouds stuck to the wall
behind the woodstove where Grandmother cooked.
I only wanted to run far, so far from Indian land.
And, God damn it, when I was old enough I did.
I loitered in some great halls of ivy
and allowed the inquisition of education:
electric cattle prods placed lovingly
to the lobes of my earth memories.
I carried the false spirit force of sadness
wrapped in a brown sack in the pocket
of a worn, tweed coat.
In junkie alleyways I whispered of forgotten arrows
in the narrow passages of my own discarded history.
Then, when I was old enough
I ran back to Indian land.
Now I’m thinking of running from here.
 
                                                Pine Ridge, South Dakota
                                                February 1988

Adrian C. Louis, "The Sacred Circle" from Fire Water World. Copyright © 1989 by Adrian C. Louis.  Reprinted by permission of West End Press. www.westendpress.org

Source: Fire Water World (West End Press, 1989)

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Poet Adrian C. Louis b. 1946

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Living, Coming of Age, Life Choices, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

Biography

A member of the Lovelock Paiute tribe, writer Adrian C. Louis grew up in Nevada and earned a BA and an MA in creative writing from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He has worked as a journalist and an editor and was a cofounder of the Native American Journalists Association. His novel Skins (1995) was made into a movie of the same title in 2002, directed by Chris Eyre. Louis has also published a collection of short . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Coming of Age, Life Choices, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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