Cheryl Savageau
---for Dovie

Medicine woman they call me
as if I should like it
like the kids in school
who called me little white dove
from some stupid song
about one more Indian woman
jumping to her death
how come you have an animal name?
they asked me, how come?
and I went home to ask my father
how come, Dad, how come
I have an animal name?

now white women come into my shop
and ask me to bless their houses
(what's wrong with them, I want to ask)
name their grandchildren
(do I know your daughters?)
blow some smoke around
say some words, do
whatever it is you do
we want someone spiritual ---
you're Indian, right?

right. my tongue is held
by their gray hair
they are grandmothers
deserving of respect
and so I speak
as gently as I can
you'd let me, a stranger,
come into your home, I ask
let me touch
your new grandchild
let me name
the baby
that comes into my head?
I am not believing this
but they are smiling
and tell me again
we want someone
to do it

I write to my father
how come you never
told me who we are, where
we came from?

Women keep coming into my shop
putting stones in my hands
Can you feel that? they ask
Of course I can feel it
I'm not dead,
but that is not the right answer

My father writes back
the garden is doing good
the corn is up
there's lots of butterflies
all I know is
we come from the stars.

--- From Poetry Like Bread,
Edited by Martín Espada
©2000, Curbstone Press

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