beaded trout

To the White Woman Who Told Me,

"When I Was a Girl, I Wanted to Be An Indian"

When I was a little girl,
I wanted to be an Indian, too -
I felt at home in the water, the
sea-salt rushing against my cheeks;
and how beautiful, and how
silent, long black hair blowing
back as stars and sequins
aligned around me; god' Didn't
I want to be an Indian! Didn't I
want to dance the two-step like
my Chicha, to ride behind her
in the Lilac parade on a horse
bedecked in beadwork and
bangles, and so strong, and so
proud.

Oh, my imaginary Indianness
would be so beautiful! I would
speak to the squirrels and
giggle with the black bats in
the caves where my cousin went,
when he slipped down that
black treacle cavern and never
returned from the tar. Or like
my auntie, so beautiful with her
hair permed and teased high
and her jean jackets, lipstick
mouth and crystal meth; auntie,
oh - the lament for my auntie's beauty
goes on and on, for she was more
agile than Pocahontas, more slender,
and more fine.

I wanted to be like my uncle,
didn't I, like my uncle with the
cans of spray paint that swirled
with all the colors of the wind,
painting mustangs and steering
wild stallions, drawing faces
of the demons he saw, hiding from
them in his rig, his burnt spoon,
hypodermic needles; uncle -
Didn't I want to be an Indian,
back then when I was a girl?
Didn't I know the reservation
like a map in my mind, where
the iron-cast play-horses
rusted into the earth?

Misty Shipman Ellingburg


contents of issue 7

Sweeping Away
Rain C. Gomez

Semper Fidelis
John D. Berry

To the White Woman Who Told Me,
Misty Shipman Ellingburg

untied
Martin Hinkel

PRAYER TO THE LAST TIME
Kenzie Allen

washing dirt
Gary Gach

Busted
Linda Boyden

We circle the tipi one time
Juanita Padopony


Misty Shipman Ellingburg Biography

Misty Shipman Ellingburg is a member of the Shoalwater Bay Indian tribe, of lower Chehalis and Chinookan descent, and seeks to advocate for Indigenous issues, even as she is learning and growing. She founded edits for Four Winds Magazine (fourwindsmagazine.com). Her work has been selected by Robert Olen Butler for the 2015 Best Small Fictions Anthology, and was shortlisted for Wigleaf’s Best Short Fiction 2015.


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