Sunday, February 18, 2007

POEM: Identity

I am…
The white girl
walking through soft brown eyes glaring
as I hide my yellow hair like a wound,
cover it like a secret,
a refugee alone in a library
sheltered by imagined worlds
from a brown skinned lunch room.
When will I represent just me,
not thousands of slave-owners,
wife-rapers, husband-beaters,
land-stealers, baby-killers,
destruction of tradition and language?
I am not white.
I lived amongst sod houses,
traveled by four-wheeler,
picked blueberries,
learned Inupiaq,
saw midnight suns and month-long blackness,
wore parkas and walked on iced oceans.
I am not Eskimo.
I think in English,
pray to Jesus Christ,
have no wise elders,
no home village,
wear a watch and keep a day-timer,
live alone.
I hate my white skin.
I stand apart from a white world,
which is traumatized by a whale hunt,
offended by a honey-pot,
and raises individuality and independence
as a lamp of perfection for all.
I wept horrified at the inaccuracy of Dances With Wolves,
raising native life as a pure
ideal, holy and good.
No lifestyle is faultless.
I wept silently
in history class in my white college
when the trail of tears was a comma
in a history book
and reservations were the concluding period.
No lifestyle should be stolen.
I balance on a wire,
a strand of taut sealgut,
between a white world
and a native village.
I am not white.
I am not native.
I cannot be both for each hates the other,
somewhere in their secret self,
buried below consciousness and clarity.

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