My great-great grandmother was not in love,
she was just an Indian woman whose
language had been stripped from her tongue.
She had forgotten how to say "lonely" in
Cherokee. So instead she
spoke with her body and when she was
through she went back to her
It's whispered about;
the illegitimacy of my existence, how my
line was borne out of betrayal,
the way that my great-great grandmother
hated her blood so much that she
turned on it, spit on it,
roasted it over flames.
Once I dreamed of a man who, in life,
had no idea that I would ever exist, had
no idea that his seed had taken root in
the belly of his enemy.
I wonder if this is why my flesh hates itself.
I saw his face. There my grandmother's eyes sat,
perched above his strong nose like jewels and
her mouth, which she so often uses to
breathe fire, was etched into his visage.
This is the only photo I have of him,
I am lucky that it exists at all.
I stare at it and wonder if we
share anything other than a random
amalgamation of facial features.
I read once, that the Creek and the Cherokee fought.
I wonder if they're still fighting in my blood;
in my mother's blood, my sister's blood.
I wonder if that's why my aunt spilled it,
wonder if she wanted to see all the
fighting going on in her veins;
wonder if that's why sometimes, in the
quiet of the night, my mind turns on
itself, whispers horrible things.
They say he had ten wives,
that he was a great man.
They also say that my great-great grandmother
died denying her own self,
only admitting on her deathbed
who her son's father truly was.
I don't know any of the old stories,
have never seen
spiritual, rhythmic dancing or
heard chants being offered up to the sky.
I look across a valley, and there on the peak
opposite from me, sits my
other self. Her skin is not so white,
her eyes are not so searching.
We stare at each other and nod.
I realize that I have forgotten how to
speak aloud the word "lonely".