It is best not to be an American Indian
I will give it up
I have examined that kind of life an discovered
it is not worth living.
I will not ask to know the name of my ancestors’
tribe, or what I must do.
I will pluck the inner eyes of emotion
I will sleep with white sex goddesses,
and never get involved.
I will never use the word love and care
for no one.
I will ask no one to care for me, so I will
never be homesick because I will have no home.
I will avoid solitude and never think of
When I die, I don’t want to know what’s happening.
Who wants to root among burial grounds and
taste the bitter roots of the human heart,
only to find that autobiography is tragedy
and that you are only one alone among many,
an inconsolable outcast.
Is there any more wine in that bottle?
When I got to work one afternoon in 1974, I found an envelope on my desk. “It’s from Jack,” the receptionist said; “He left it for you.” Jack was my coworker and friend. I still have what I found in the envelope, a poem that still haunts me. He was an Anishinaabe Indian from northern Minnesota, wore his hair in two long braids, and worked with the Indians who lived near our office. “He’s gone,” the receptionist said; “He quit his job, said he was moving south.”
Jack was my friend, and I think about him and his situation often. His poem, and his life, are subjects to ponder.