Linda McCarriston’s “Indian Girls”

Indian Girls
By Linda McCarriston


They come down all the ways
waterways or over snow and
frozen river, or come down
roads in pickups, getting
away, getting to town.
Many clans, tribes,
the Snail, the Raven,
many complexions, the thick
black hair. They learn
they are not my sisters
for I am white
though I would tell them — have —
that my road into
this town, too, was long
and bitter and began
breathlessly, silently,
under a chief still
called wise one.


Out in the low and
wind-shriven villages
winter is warming its
hands on the flat roofs.
Women are making
fire inside, and food, and
mukluks for the babies.
Women are making
light, trying, trying
to shine it over the
whole house, even
to the dark rooms of
cold, where savage
rights of the old
body over the
young, the great
body over the small
are preserved
as the oldest charter.


They swagger out of the
Avenue Bar at midnight with
some tonight’s Honey
laughter that’s a dare to
make them scared of
you or any buddy. They
wear wallets on chains
and cowboy boots worn to
the cardboard heels
and their hair wants
washing. A few still
young — too ripe too
early — figure even
this picking is better
than being handed
over without so
much as beer. Who
might any of them
have become
in even the least
of the villages
had Christ not
come with his cross
and bottle
of vodka, his father’s
god-awful rights
the daughter,
the sister,
the son?

Schools: University of Alaska Fairbanks Cases: University of Alaska: Investigation of Protected Speech