Whereas my eyes land on the shoreline of “the arrival of Europeans in North America
opened a new chapter in the history of Native Peoples.” Because in others, I hate the act
of laughing when hurt injured or in cases of danger. That bitter hiding. My daughter picks up
new habits from friends. She’d been running, tripped, slid on knees and palms onto asphalt.
They carried her into the kitchen, she just fell, she’s bleeding! Deep red streams
down her arms and legs, trails on white tile. I looked at her face. A smile
quivered her. A laugh, a nervous. Doing as her friends do, she braved new behavior, feigned
a grin — I couldn’t name it but I could spot it. Stop, my girl. If you’re hurting, cry.
Like that. She let it out, a flood from living room to bathroom. Then a soft water pour
I washed carefully light touch clean cotton to bandage. I faced her I reminded,
In our home in our family we are ourselves, real feelings. Be true. Yet I’m serious
when I say I laugh reading the phrase, “opened a new chapter.” I can’t help my body.
I shake. The realization that it took this phrase to show. My daughter’s quiver isn’t new —
but a deep practice very old she’s watching me;
Layli Long Soldier, “From Whereas” from Whereas. Copyright © 2017 by Layli Long Soldier. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
Source: Whereas (Graywolf Press, 2017)