Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Paterson: Book II, Chapter I, p. 52

Imagined Indians / the Ground Spoke

Looking past

suction-cup arrows

and cheap plastic bows,

my brother settles

on a toy wooden

musket and coonskin

cap, hung to the left

of the sale window

in a Blue Ridge

tourist store.

Our parents buy a

second set, and we’re

matched the rest

of the day:

exchanging empty

rifle cracks from behind

the boulders along

the clean hiking paths

to the top of the


At the summit,

my brother raises

the butt of his gun

and rams it against

my cheek; his face: red,

angry. Our mother

scolds him, reminds him

we’re brothers; we don’t

fight with each other;

we’re not savages.

In the afternoon,

our father buckles us

both into the back-

seat of our car, and we

close our eyes for the

long, winding drive back

down the Parkway: two

Boones, two Crocketts, foe-

less, now, and silent;

sleeping on and off.

I have a picture

at home: A doe-skinned

Mother, papoosed,

paused mid-stride along

a game trail, bare foot

lifted and waiting

to slip silently

into the oil-painted

underbrush. White streaks

filter down through the trees.

Caps in my pocket,

striped raccoon tail pinched

in the nape of my

neck, I imagine

Indians, smooth, dark,

hatchets in hand, bows

on their backs, quiet –

each frozen in step

as our car turns tightly

around another corner.