Erin Bad Hand

Fields spill past us, one by one, a patchwork blur of grays and browns while
perched high on a heap of highway dirt, a large Golden

angles her head sidelong, bearing through the girl in the front seat
with the trenchant squint of an angry huntress      We fly

past scattered crosses groaning under weight of plastic flowers
venerating lives not spoken enough of

these descansos left for travelers meant to play morbid games
who     and how    and when

we reach the grousing pines of that forgotten valley,
Wakpamni Lake sings out its suffering

hungry for the lives of small ones that once sought refuge in its waters
You tell me of the path you used to take

where you and your cousins rode
that eternal trail of boyhood in South Dakota, 1956 maybe

And the girl in the front seat smiles for the next photograph
asks more questions, squints her eyes for a closer look at

what was never there before, but continues to grow, out from
the late April mud still covered           with the desperate ice of last winter

How do we retrace the steps of a lifetime that occurred so long ago?

The house on the hill is where I used to live, you say
But she looks and there is no house
                                                          Ah, that is where it used to be

Driving all this time, silence broken by small, vital stories, up the hill and out
through the valley’s gaping mouth (it has let us go without a fight)

into the vast numbness of Nebraska
past the little farm where you say

with pointing lips– That is where my father used to work,
on that little farm on the hill, picking potatoes

Erin Bad Hand
Erin Bad Hand

Erin Bad Hand is an iyeska poet; Lakota, Eastern Cherokee and a myriad of others. She is a dancer, a singer, a traveler, and a lover of life. She has her MFA, she has been a Macondo Fellow, an Enchanted Land Fellow at A Room Of Her Own Foundation, and has given readings and performances from California to Illinois. She has been published in Chokecherries, The Sister Fund Newsletter, Taos Poetry Circus: The Nineties (2002), Fnews Magazine, and has a chapbook published by the Hulbert Center Press of Colorado College titled And Then Everyone Can Rest…. (2002). She is currently cultivating her first baby bump along with her first full-length collection of poetry.