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Her Skin

Paula LeClair


She’s an Indian you know, a North American one,
and her nose is squashed and her eyes are


Beady, small unknowable windows with no lids hardly for
eye shadow, and her skin was dark and people thought she
was Hispanic and spoke Spanish to her when she was
around them, which most sincerely pissed her off,
and her hair used to be dyed jet


She teased it to great heights and sprayed it in place
and she wore these mini skirts and clunky shoes
and salmon pink lipstick and called herself my mother,
decidedly not just another


who came to Texas in ‘63 and drank from the Colored
water fountains, but Mother, a liberated one at that
who quit dying her hair after the Change and let it go pure


She still has no eye lids and her hip hurts and she dreams
about her parents who went on the Reservation in 1890 something
and started to wear shoes and write and speak


and wear civilized clothing and eat fried chicken
(What the hell is chicken? Does it taste like squirrel?)
and name their girl child Irene and the boy Frank.
She has wrinkles now on that skin,
lines of life etched by time,
that dark oily, savage skin,
the living landscape of a
lost race that never cared to be found.