Indigenous Trinity: a Love Song for the Impossible Chicken Dancer

A Love Song for the Impossible Chicken Dancer


When you were seven years old, I watched you throw rocks, hurl kid insults and laugh with the other pre-k’s, swing a baseball bat into another child’s stomach and run.

I was fourteen and captivated by the yellowy-blonde boy’s wild eyes when he carried a pigskin; the smell of brown skin like sweat, wet.

Now brown skin smells of sweetgrass and sage. It smells like the calm after the rain.

When you were a child, you hit another child in the stomach with a baseball bat. How was I supposed to know over a decade later I’d have the wind knocked out of me, too, the next time I saw you.

2. A list of boys or men (dead or living) I have intended to fall in love with:

a. Martin Freman
b. any Doctor, ever
c. Langton Hughes
d. the dentist, even with his fingers in my mouth – blue latex gloves and thumb pressed into my cheek, my (as he calls it) “excessive saliva” dripping down his hand

3, A list of girls or women (dead or living) I have intended to fall in love with:

a. Desirae Hafer
b. any jazz singer (see a)
c. Lana Del Rey (see b)
d. the Shawl Dancer from last week’s powwow who didn’t place because her outfit wasn’t as pretty as the others, but whose high kicks and war paint made me feel brave.

4. A list of people I have not intended to fall in love with, but did anyway (dead or living)

a. You.


It goes without saying you are too young for me.


I have tried not to notice you when you sit across from me at work, singing Salish low under your breath, drum chants and tribal songs, or when you say the name of your tribe proud and deep, surfing Facebook, putting all the spit into the hard consonants, utilizing that archaic glottal stop, “Qalispe.”

I know your father is the cultural director and Language lead.

I know I am only a part-Indian from another tribe whose white skin tells no tales.

So when I see you see me I look away. Of course I look away.

You do not see me very often.


Desire makes me flushed in the face.  I try to capture my thoughts and tuck them in secret places, in my bra, under my belt loops, in the empty spaces of my drawstring purse. But each time I see you, they flush my face again, they fill me with shame and excitement, and I am vulnerable to your youth and beauty.


This weekend we danced together in your tribe’s powwow, and I wore my tribal colors and on the hard honor beats of the drum, I raised my fan into the air. I smelled like the sage I burned. I smelled like smudging and smoke and white leather and beadwork and fry bread and Pepsi and

the otter furs I wore in my hair and

at last I felt that I could look at you – and so when you danced, I watched you, the proud swoop of your neck and your shoulder-length black hair course and

I watched your eyes when you danced and the quick, pecking movements of your chin, the way you carried the staff and bag with stiff arms bent at the elbow and broad shoulders, with your jingling fur-capped ankles and the orange beads looped under your eyes and your feathered roach headdress and I felt worthy to look at you, then, with my own Eagle feathers high and proud

I wanted you to see me.

Sometimes when I danced I felt your eyes on me. I tried to dance harder, then, to get the swift up-down movements of Traditional dancers right, to look like All That is Woman since you are All That Is Man.

I don’t know how well I did.


When I notice people notice me, I pretend not to see, refuse to acknowledge them in their curious approval. Sometimes I think this is why I will die alone. But it’s out of self-preservation and the fear of shame that I do it.


If you notice me, I mean, really notice me, I won’t look away.



more FLASH SUITE Contest


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