Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Poems: "Arlee (my hometown)" - by Jennifer Greene

The deadliest highway in Montana unzips itself through
the center of town. The fanciest building is the Post Office.
At night, kids ride bikes around empty gas pumps illuminated
under artificial lights.

A maze of dirt and gravel roads make a nest around the town.

In a house with the porch light turned off, a man falls in love
with a woman. His world, his children will grow roots and
sprout inside of her. Her hands will bathe the feet of his babies.

The Stockman's bar is filled with light from the inside out on
dark nights where reputations are broken like beer bottles. Many
people go to church on Sunday where they hold hands, put dollars
in a basket, and pray for sick people in each other's families.

During the 4th of July, powwow music dances its way through town
and into the hands of people smiling bright and quiet as stars. People
love each other leaned up against cars. At the powwow grounds,
teenagers walk in circles looking for each other. At powwow time,
grownups play blackjack in tin buildings and play stickgame until
the sun comes up smelling like coffee with no sugar. Some drummers
hold their throats while they sing, and fancy dancers, jingle dress
dancers, and tiny tots wait for the next intertribal.

At the high school, some teachers have taught at least two
generations of some families. Yes, there are some white
people who hate Indians and probably anybody brown but who
choose to live on a reservation. There are others who marry
Indian women and men. Yes, there are some people who never
leave because everything they love is here.

* * * * * * * *

Jennifer Greene was born and raised on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. She started writing poetry when she was 20 years old. She is married, has three children, teaches, works on history projects, and stays up until the wee hours of the morning to write and read. Her book, What I Keep (Greenfield Press, 1999), won the First Book Award for Poetry from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas. Her newest book is What Lasts (Foothills Publishing, 2011). "Arlee (my hometown" was published in the collection New Poets of the American West.

1 comment:

  1. We are fortunate to have such a keen and heartfelt observer in our area.