A New Story

Simon Joseph Ortiz

Several years ago,
I was a patient at the VA hospital
in Ft, Lyons, Colorado.
I got a message to call this woman,
so I called her up.
She said to me,
"I'm looking for an Indian.
Are you an Indian?"
"Yes," I said.
"Oh good," she said,
"I'll explain why I'm looking
for an Indian."
And she explained.
"Every year, we put on a parade
in town, a Frontier Day Parade.
It's exciting and important,
and we have a lot of participation."
"Yes," I said.
"Well," she said, "Our theme
is Frontier,
and we try to do it well.
In the past, we used to make up
paper mache Indians,
but that was years ago."
"Yes," I said.
"And then more recently,
we had some people
who dressed up as Indians
to make it more authentic,
you understand, real people."
"Yes," I said.
"Well," she said,
"that didn't seem right,
but we had a problem.
There was a lack of Indians."
"Yes," I said.
"This year, we wanted to do it right.
We have looked hard and high
for Indians but there didn't seem
to be any in this part of Colorado."
"Yes," I said.
"We want to make it real, you understand,
put a real Indian on a float,
not just a paper mache dummy
or an Anglo dressed as an Indian
but a real Indian with feathers and paint.
Maybe even a medicine man."
"Yes," I said.
"And then we learned the VA hospital
had an Indian here.
We were so happy,"
she said, happily.
"Yes," I said.
"there are several of us here."
"Oh good," she said.

Well, last Spring
I got another message
at the college where I worked.
I called the woman.
She was so happy
that I returned her call.
Then she explained
that Sir Francis Drake,
the English pirate
(she didn't say that, I did)
was going to land on the coast
of California in June, again.
And then she said
she was looking for Indians . . .
"No," I said. No.


__________________________________________________________________________________

Source:
http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/3091.html
Online text copyright © 2009, Ian Lancashire (the Department of English) and the University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Illustration:
http://www.barbarian-art.com/author.php?author_id=10
"It's nice to meet a real Indian", 1999, 64,5x44,5, Paper, Watercolour, Ink.

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