These Things and More

it’s like living in a house
where you can’t see the sun set

it’s like losing your toe because you’re diabetic
and didn’t want to listen to the doc about your diet

it’s like herding twelve sheep you never named

or like sitting alone in a packed auditorium
that declares
“We Are All Equal!”

it’s like your sister not recognizing your voice
over the phone

and like believing you should have been born
before American history began

it’s like killing a spider crawling on your arm
feeling they are good for nothing anyway

it’s like finding a week-old cherry stem

it’s like being told by your grandfather that
you’re not good enough
because you’re half-breed instead of full-blood

it’s like digging up native plants
and replanting them in American soil

it’s like having a lisp

or being stung by a bee

it’s like being fifty years old and never having
danced at a powwow

it’s like not knowing a male kangaroo has a
forked penis and it’s natural

it’s like a good friend being dead for three years
and you just heard

like all these things and more
when we don’t fully understand our native tongue

Melanie Cesspooch, a member of the Northern Ute tribe of Whiterocks, Utah, will graduate in May 1998 from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Creative writing is a powerful medium that has pushed her personal and artisĀ­tic visions to unimaginable limits.

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