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Our Grandmother's Granddaughters

You never would have guessed it was prohibition

The way she tumbled out of cabs

In front of her auntie's house on 5th street

Usually somewhere between 3 and 4 in the morning

It was as hot as the inside of a fresh biscuit inside that little stucco house

Like trying to curl up and go to sleep with a fat black dog

In that one room house so full of beds and relatives you could barely pass between them

So she made her bed with her sister under the grape arbor

Not that it mattered when the clubs twinkled up and down the street

Like broken candy on the ground after a parade

You could hear the music from Auntie's front yard

She didn't even try to stay home

But she did turn up at school

Most days

She danced with Comanche boys she'd known all her life

And kissed them in the street

and the taxi

and the yard

and the arbor where she slept

Then the next night did the same

With a soldier from Brooklyn or Sheboygen

And the night after that with a fine young Kiowa 

If she did anything else with the moon shining off of the lacquered plum trees

And the arbor heavy with grapes

It was nobody's business but her own

At least until she had a curly headed baby boy

That everyone doted on

One sweetheart gave her his jitterbug coat but she loaned it to her sister

One sweetheart gave her his class ring but she lost that

One sweetheart sent her a postcard from Riverside Indian School that read

"I know my grandmother doesn't care for you

But school breaks soon.

When I come home

Will you marry me

Indin way

For the Summer?"

In 1939

There was a depression on

But you'd never know it by her

She was having a ball

She met the love of her life

In a juke joint

While her mama and auntie watched the baby

Forty years later she'd be a tribal court judge


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