« he wrote poems in the nineteenth century. »
« white people were killing Indians in the nineteenth century » thesecond uncle said.
Her father and uncles cursed with shock and disgust.
She wanted to say, « Everything ».She wanted to scream it knew she’d be punished for herdisrespect of her elders. Because she was Indian, she’d been taught to fear and hate white people.
Sure, she hated all sorts of white people the arrogant white businessmen in theirwool suits , the illiterate white cheerleaders in their convertibles , the thousands of flannel-shirted rednecks who roamed the streets of Spokane but she knew theyrepresented the worst of whiteness.
She knew racism , tribalism , and nationalism were encoded in human DNA , and we’d all save our own child from a burning building even if it meanta thousand strangers would die , and we’d all kill in defense of our wives , husbands , brothers , sisters , parents, and children.
However she also wanted to believe inhuman goodness.
« I‘ve got to go , » Corliss to said « I ‘have got homework. »
« Give me that book, » the second uncle said .
He took the books from her, opened it atrandom , and read , « Glory be to God for dappled things/For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow. »
All the men laughed.
« What the hell does that mean? »The thirduncle asked.
« It’s a poem about a cow, » her father said. « She‘s always reading poems about cows. »
« You can’t write a poem about a cow, can you? » the first uncleasked. « They’re ugly and stupid.
I thought poems were supposed to be pretty and smart. »
« Yeah, Corliss », the second uncle said.
You’re going to be rich and famous.