By Mlle Lacs, another big lake on a reservation,
the windows of unpainted houses stare through cloudy eyes.
No money’s left for nothing: men need whiskey, women food,
it doesn’t pay to be Ojibwe, much less destitute.
I won’t say much more, she says, I’m out of here, he replies.
The boy meets the old man at the door brushing quickly by.
The car coming down the driveway is the girl’s sweet lover,
prez of the Black Bears with a paw track on his jacket’s back.
Her mother invites him in, the boy says he can’t and leaves.
Girl stays home watching the black and white. Mama goes hungry.
Son’s walking up the highway. He knows where the good stuff waits.
Full dark. He hears nothing for the cars. He picks up the pace.
His old man will be in town slobbering over barflies,
panhandling on the street outside, amassing rent money.
He drinks himself to sleep. He’s on the street completely broke.
Boys and girls in jackets like his son’s haul him home and spill
his shadow by the door, one window pulsing with blue light.
Mama goes to the door and drags him in. The girl’s asleep.
Her brother’s somewhere getting loaded, he stays high and dry.
Once he arrives Mama will ask, Where did you go and why?
(20 October 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander