Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Painting by Charles Lasansky
Hookum, jug-in-a-brown-bag man,
when it's time to plant your garden
in a Mexican shirt and baseball hat,
do you remember your friends back
on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation?
"I'm not going home this year
for the basketball tournament," you tell me.
"Because I know too damn many drunks
and I've been on the wagon for two months
this time, three months the time before."
Driving through reservation farmland
with my father and I, you are more
than the man who keeps us company, who waits
in the car while the BIA processes our checks.
"I remember your father when he was the wildest
Indian boy on the reservation," you tell me.
"He would drink all night long and wake up
in the morning hitting jumpshots from thirty feet
until forever. Your dad would score twenty points
in the first half, drink a six-pack at halftime
and then score twenty more in the second half."
Hookum, you tell me the same old stories
my father has been telling me for years
a memory like news clippings, but I want
to know why my wild pony of a father never died,
never left to chase the tail of some Crazy Horse
dream? "Your father always knew how to love hard,"
you tell me, crawling over broken glass, surviving
house fires and car wrecks, gathering ash
for your garden, Hookum, and for the old stories
where the Indian never loses. In my father
I'll find the hard edges of the earth
where I was raised, dust
thin and unforgiving, time and God and beer
following us in rows.
Sherman Alexie......from The Business of Fancydancing