A board suspended on a log, a makeshift teeter totter, down by the water. You stand on one end, me on the other. Arms extend for balance. I haven’t done this since I was a kid, now I’m further from the ground. We recognize this, we say so to each other tonight on my porch steps—arms extend, bodies brace against each other for the first time. Before kisses, between kisses, I don’t want to hurt you, I don’t want to be hurt by you. Over and over, lines from a nursery rhyme. We cannot stay balanced like this forever: love: equal and reciprocal. One of us will tire of the work of our play. But down by the water, there is no notion of rising tide. The risk is worth taking as you take a step backward, as I scream, as I catch my breath to admit I’ve never been good with physics.
On the Border
Looking for something local, but tired, hungry, lost, I settle for something on the border. A green grasshopper lands on my white napkin. Good luck it seems to me, but the waitress wants to kill it. I move to shelter it with my hand, but it flies away. The waitress wants to know where I’m from, what I’m doing here. I tell her. Honey, she says. Rosebud is a whole ’nother world. You’ll see. Stray dogs, trailers without windows. Warns me not to feel too much. That’s her problem, she says. I feel too much. A man with a white beard overhears our conversation. Ethnic Studies? No one studies U.S. history anymore. A few years back, he was living in La Mesa, border of Tijuana and San Diego, and he’d rather live in TJ over Rosebud any day. Got to remember only 150 years ago those people were nomads. Got to remember those people have no concept of discipline. Illustrates by impersonating Indians walking alongside the road. Standing now, mouth open wide, sways his hips forward so his belly protrudes. His eyes roll back into his head. Not all Indians are like that. Ones in Pine Ridge are different. But you better cover your ass, girl. Cover your ass. The man and the waitress laugh. The waitress explains her husband works for the local jail. Because of Indians, he has a job. The man and the waitress laugh. On the border, lines are drawn. Apparently, never does it occur to them that I am Indian. The grasshopper lands in the man’s beard, he doesn’t notice, still laughing. As long as no one notices, maybe it won’t be harmed.