Vivian Faith Prescott, 04/12

Daughter of Tokens


She says she doesn’t feel like an Indian
and sometimes people, tourists mostly,
don’t think she’s an Indian, but when they find out,

they want their photo taken with a “white one.”
She says she doesn’t know how to write
like an Indian, doesn’t know how to talk about

I tell her—maybe it’s because you drive a refurbished
Honda with a Toyota engine and your regalia

is your hoodie and you go berry picking in a hat
that makes you look Chinese.
Tonight, there’s a “whoo hoo” celebration

(as she calls it)—Native American Month. She puts on
her best Indian t-shirt, the one that says, “I’m half
white but I can’t prove it.” She flings her waist-long,

dark hair behind her back, pokes the silver labret
below her lip. She heads for the stage to read
her poems. She speaks in her dying language—

tells them she’s a Raven, a Snail; her grandfather’s
people are Bears and says something about her colonization
therapy and makes them wonder why their seats

just got harder. After, she says to me—reading poetry
is all about Indian warfare and they don’t even know it.



The American Indian Holocaust Museum


I read the poem of the same name
by Sherman Alexie, five days after my friend,
Andy Hope III, died at 58 from cancer

and I thought about what I could do to honor
what people called Andy’s “politically
incorrect views” and wondered why

we couldn’t buy Sheldon Jackson College
that used to be a boarding school
where missionaries swatted our kids

for speaking their language, punished
them just for being—the after-affects
are still killing off our generations.

Andy and I had conversations like that.
But I wonder who would visit
this island in order to walk down

Lincoln street past the boat harbor,
past the Russian Bishop’s House, past the past,
to pay five or ten dollars to enter

the American Indian Holocaust Museum
and stand beside a picture of Andy grinning.


Hair Like She Wore It


My daughter once claimed
a right to dye her hair green

since her grandmother declared
alien status from another planet.

And when she grew up, she dyed it pink
and the public school questioned

her ability to be a foster mother.
And once she shaved it off;

no water at the hatchery barge,
said salmon slime stuck in it,

got tired of picking out the scales.
Now it’s long, down to her butt

where she flips it back
o it doesn’t drag in the toilet

and the tourists she shows around town
politely ask to touch her “Indian” hair.




Promote. Poetry.
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