Measuring the Distance to Oklahoma

Laura Da

Shell shaking in the state of the coin toss and sorrowful walk.

Weaving through the powwow grounds
grass stomped low and buzzing with flies
            your son walks two quick steps ahead of me
            to point out a tiny bow and arrow at a vendor’s booth.

Rats scuttle in the grain silo.
The gentle clamor of the casino washes through the parking lot.
A table is piled with half a dozen corn cakes,
each one embossed with the maker’s thumbprint.
Your grandfather recounts
catching water moccasins as a boy
and spitting wads of tobacco down their throats
just to watch them squirm.

You sink onto a dusty quilt
gently pull the empty coke can from your boy’s sleeping fist
shake your head impatiently when your daughter whines for you to
untie an intricately beaded belt from her regalia.
Child’s arrow, capped with a pencil eraser twirling in your fingers.

Ottawa county moon as seen from a distance:
Pale vodka swirling in an open mouth.
Driving home on the frontage road,
green and riveted as a turtle’s back.
Highway sketched into place by the broken black lines
of oil rigs at midnight.


Laura Da
Laura Da

Laura Da’ studied creative writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts and the University of Washington.  Her poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, Red Ink, Hanging Loose, and First Intensity.  Laura is a member of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma.  She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and son.