Her man with dark glasses showed up in town.
He was part Sioux, walked like a gunfighter.
He stopped drinking. They set his house afire,
his wife and daughter burned alive by men
he hated but needed to stop before
he fell to hating those who hated him
and made him hate himself for hating them.
Something under his skin kept on burning
from inside out, as long as he let it.
Smell of char in the air, of burning flesh.
You could smell it on him and so could she,
his Irish woman: how could he love her
without draining off hate with his heartbeat?
That’s how she knew he loved. He didn't say.
Her grandmother told her of the Easter
rebellion 1916. Mother was two,
Father borne from Scotland to Ulster
where the color of green clashed with orange.
If they read Yeats the Lakota poets
would write Easter 1973
and talk of Peltier, Trudell, Banks, and Means,
reciting names of beautiful women
shouldering guns and along with the men
defending their right to be left to live
without reservation goons in their way,
those who had hired on with the FBI,
whose names were better forgotten with time,
and when the bastards attacked in the night
the women and men, shoulder to shoulder,
defended their bunker, where the old ones
were mowed down by the Hotchkiss guns,
corpses left to freeze in 1890.
Now the Irish lass is gone but he still
wears dark glasses and sometimes thinks of her
when he walks the same streets he walked with her
and she was so proud of him she kissed him
in Rapid City and Pine Ridge. She loves
him still, so many miles away. She knows
love like lightning may strike once but not twice
the same bound hearts. Love is like a storm
crossing the plains. Wind sweeps the floor, rain falls hard
on the cracked earth settling the dust like love
settles the great feuds that will never end.
Nor will love. The storms. The wind. Or the rain.
(5 March 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander