beaded trout

Gone Dancing

- for Thomas Anthony Miranda

My grandfather never spoke Spanish.

I dont talk like a Mexican, he'd say,

nor dress like one neither!

Every day he wore clean chinos

and a fresh-pressed shirt to work

at the construction site, and for a night

on the town, his silky suit and tie.

In black and white photos, he poses -

solemn, dark, proud of his good taste.


But sometimes my grandfather disappeared,

was absent for days. His crisp shirts hung

neatly in a closet, his suit limp in its bag

from the cleaners. Gone to the hills,

people said quietly, Gone dancing.

Nobody remembers where, now. Some Rancheria

that's vanished, some place so remote

only Indians wanted it. But my grandfather,

he knew. He knew when to go, how to get there.

Drove away at night, not a word to his wife,

his sons. Didn't take his good clothes.

Didn't tell where he'd been when he finally

came home. Still, word got around.

They said he was the best dancer, even

made his own regalia, wore feathers, shells,

grass. Girls fell for him, they said,

admired his legs corded with muscle, capable

of keeping step for days. Maybe that's why

he never took his boys with him. Maybe

that's why in the family album there's only

the kind of clothes all the dandies wore.


When my grandfather died, fifty years later,

his sons gave away closets full

of carefully creased slacks, clean shirts,

outdated suits. They didn't find

feathers, or shells, not a wisp of tule.

There's only this story, and my own

smooth legs, bare with desire to step and slide

certain times of the year, certain nights.

Originally published in Indian Cartography, by Deborah A. Miranda, Greenfield Review Press, 1999

Deborah A. Miranda


contents of issue 4

A Tip From the Butterflies
Nicole Savage

At The Stomp Dance
Linda Rodriguez

Gone Dancing
Deborah A. Miranda

Solstice
Linda Boyden

Time of the Circle Dance
Mary Jean Robertson

Un-Dance
Nazbah Tom


Deborah A. Miranda Biography

Deborah A. Miranda is the author of Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir, The Zen of La Llorona, and Indian Cartography; she is co-editor of Sovereign Erotics: An Anthology of Two Spirit Literature. Miranda is an enrolled member of the Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation of California, and teaches Creative Writing (poetry and memoir), composition, and literature at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Pennie Opal Plant is of Yaqui/Mexican/Choctaw/Cherokee/European descent. She is a mother, grandmother, wife, activist, poet, and artist. She owns Gathering Tribes, a Native gallery store in Albany, California.


Permission to publish poems in this one context was granted by the authors, who unless otherwise specified, hold copyright on these works.