There, we were taught to call you Brother
Our red hands sore from being hit when we didnít
Were clasped in yours as you taught us about heaven
...We were going to be saved from being Indian
While you suffocated us in our sleep with your religion, we called to our parents
Some of us holding onto stuffed animals, some of us holding onto pictures
Believing tomorrow that they would come and gather us in their arms
...To take us home
And sometimes we felt so small against windowpanes
That promised us freedom just on the other side
That we ran outside just to feel alive
...Just to breathe ...Just to breathe
Exhaling it all in gasps of angry thickened breaths
That made every sunrise and sunset explode in Red
Across Heaven and Earth,
...One battle won
By the time their house became a bar we had all become faithful followers. We would listen to whoever felt the power of liquor flowing through their blood first preach about the evils of the white man and his ways and by the time the night was through we all had felt that surge of inevitable false power that filled our heads with glory. But, in that tiny bar, where disciples of Jack Daniels would heal broken hearts by playing Percy Sledge on the jukebox and those with nothing more than a drink and a pocket full of wishes would dream of dancing with the finest Indian women on the reservation. Sometimes, you and I would find ourselves sitting across from each other swearing we would never fall in love again.
The first time, we fell in love, you told me that through the smoke and flashing neon you could tell I was different then the rest. Maybe, it was the way I walked with a certain swagger or the way I talked with confidence when I told you I was and wanted to make things better for everyone on the reservation. And, I could tell you meant it all when you touched my hand and played with my braids.
I told you, that through the dark and drunken laughter that I had always felt different about you. Maybe, it was the way you held me close when we danced or how the men always had their eyes on you like you were some kind of prize out of a crackerjack box. But, you always seemed to find your way back to me and I never saw you as a prize. I saw you as a gift.
Sunday morning we found ourselves entangled in each otherís arms and legs and I felt the sun warm on our bodies as it streamed through your dreams and knew we couldnít be. You, with your countless scars on your heart and me with mine were made for one night to heal each other. Sundays have a way of bringing out the truth. But, that was so long ago and now we find ourselves sitting here immersed in our own religion, swearing we would never fall in love again. Taking one drink closer to healing one another knowing Sunday morning we would have visited heaven for one night.
Dance me just beyond forgiveness
Dance me just beyond tomorrow, always
Phone calls in the night, we talked for hours and sometimes never talking for hours just listening to each other breathe so we knew the other was alive and waiting for the next word to travel hundreds of miles back to when we first met.
You, with your braids and me with mine, facing each other waiting for the next song to play, waiting for the next dance to begin, waiting for B11 on the jukebox to play our song, waiting to be carried away by reservation currents that drown the hopeless and strip young lovers of innocence.
Hold me tight against your body while we dance until it ends and while we wait for the next dance to begin. Take me in the spotlight and wrap me in your braids and Iíll wrap you in mine, together making magic out of cigarette smoke and dreams.
Dance me just beyond forgiveness
Dance me just beyond tomorrow, always
And it will be magic, it will be magic.
February, anticipating Valentine's Day to show how much we love one another. One day of warmth, one day to show how much you love and are loved, one day out of 365. A single rose and a card along with cans of beer decorate the kitchen table. Dirty dishes are piled up with children's wishes for the stench of beer and their parent's love of it to evaporate like the winter snow. Another day in paradise on the reservation.
March, reservation madness storms in like a lion, sweeping across treetops until it enters into every single body, settling into bones. It makes some believe in Jesus and drives others to suicide and we blame it all on the wind and the Preachers are making their way from house to house trying to give us something to believe in.
April, I believe the old ones went away, someplace far, far away, to someplace better. They disappeared the night the stars refused to shine and they whispered into everyone's ears, "Try and make it without us." It was the last thing anyone ever heard from them and everyone cried when the stories finally died. We won't make it very far.
May, far down the river, we found the remnants of a song floating on a current. The words melted together with the rushing water and we were left to figure out the words on our own. I thought I heard the song say this,
"Through all time,
We crossed every line
To make things better for you
When you look at the sky, so blue
Remember, we are here for you
We are here for you
We are here for you."
June, you walked down the aisle hand in hand with a dream that you had found something better than this and then you called a few weeks later crying that your husband had beaten you, just like your mothers husband and her mother's husband. An unbreakable chain in the circle that we dance around. The man at the liquor store holds the key that keeps husbands full of hatred and keeps them locked in.
July, locked in a circle in the summer heat, dancing around the powwow arena, leaving our footprints upon the earth to show that we are still here. The passion of the music, shook the souls of the white visitors into finally believing that we do carry something special inside of us and the power of the music shook the cobwebs of everyday life out of our systems for a few days, leaving us to feel free once again.
August, again the winds blew across the land, lifting everything from its place, even the rocks were moved, changing their shape, to that of a timeless form. All the Indians who were outside, on that day the wind blew, became birds for a few hours. Some became Eagles and others became Hawks, but no matter what they were, all those who were inside on that day, envied them and aspired to fly like them for the rest of their lives.
September, lives sometimes become invisible, they become walking ghosts. The man on the corner we pretend to not see, asks for change, but he is asking for something more. The woman screaming for help in her apartment, we pretend not to hear, but we hear her in our dreams and in memories of our own mothers screaming. Our own lives become invisible too, when we pretend not to see and hear.
October, hear the laughter of children as they walk from house to house dressed in their Halloween costumes. Boys are dressed as their favorite heroes, Batman, Spiderman and Superman. The girls are dressed as Barbie, Angels, and Pocahontas. One boy came as a beggar and I asked him why did he choose that to wear. He answered, "I am dressed like my Father."
November, Fathers, remember the time we played catch behind the house and you told us about the time you dreamed of becoming pro baseball players. One day, we waited behind the house for you to come home and throw the ball to us, but you never came. We waited until the sun turned red and turned the sky into a purple rose, but you never came. I guess, the man at the bar held more power in a single glass of beer than all of our love put together.
December, together we wrap the flag from the coffin and lower another link of the circle into the ground. The wind blows cold across our faces and takes us to far away places. We have visited this place too many times and we have heard the church bell chime too many times, but don't cry. For you see, we become the warmth of the sun and we become Eagles and Hawks and the dreams that talk to you.
I fly through the air following the smell of frybread and it leads me to my Grandmothers house and she tells me to go to church on Sundays because that is what she was taught while she grew up in the boarding school. I smile in agreement and chew on my frybread, but I feel differently about church then she does because it was not beaten into me like it was her, but Sunday comes around and I go with her. The man at the pulpit tells us God created man and we should live like him, but I am thinking God created man because he was bored. I look out the window and see birds flying overhead and I get lost in my thoughts. My Grandmother nudges me and brings me back to reality. Now the preacher is telling us that the church needs money for new pews or something or another. I reach into my pocket and pull out a prayer, that the children who didnít have breakfast this morning because their parents are passed out find something to eat and I drop it into the collection plate and I listen real hard and hear the sound of tiny hands using can openers to cut their way through commodity cans of fruit and I am satisfied that my prayer was answered. Praise the lord for can openers.
We leave the confines of Church and I take my Grandmother home and I drive through town on my way to the lake and I see an old man in tattered clothes panhandling for change in front of the grocery store. I see people ignore him and I wonder if he knows he is invisible. I wonder if he forgot how to fly, but I know he traded that knowledge for a bottle of Thunderbird Wine and will not get it back for a long time, maybe never and it makes me sad that a single bottle can hold so much power over someone who has more power in his heart than the brightest lightning stroke, but a single bottle holds him back from striking his weakness down, shattering it into a million emeralds and all the wine he has ever consumed will burn inside of him like the lake of fire leaving only a scar on his heart, but he chooses to drown instead.
I drive on and make my way to the lake where I listen to the sound of the lake waves hitting the shore and toss pebbles into them, each of them making ripples that form endlessly across miles of moving dreams and I sink to the bottom of them. I turn away and find the remnants of love etched in a tree, confession of oneís love to another. I find a piece of a broken beer bottle and etch my confession also, I write, ďIndianĒ and circle it with heart and...fly away.
Dreams of you fill my mind I can still hear you Your voice being carried by the wind Whispering back I love you But, it is only a dream...
You see...You left this world I have the asked Lord a million times Why he would take a once in a lifetime Love away from me He never answers...
Iam left to wander in this world without you Iam lost without you I pray that you will come back to me And you do
I hold up your picture... As I look into your eyes I whisper I love you
And in that single moment I am able to see you...feel you