The only time we’ve ever held hands
was during the two-step
at a powwow at the high school
gymnasium, medicine wheel flags
competing with ol’ glory’s violent clatter,
the aroma of tangy venison aching
against the pervasive scent
of steamed broccoli
and government-regulation pizza.
When we watched the Duck Dance
you explained to me that we did not
dance in the name of waterfowl,
though we preened
and fussed with our hair,
oily feathers cropped short
and close to the scalp.
But for our only dance we
dipped and hopped
on one foot as the emcee
called, laughing between
fancy shawls and jingle dresses,
shimmering rainbows of brown
and green. Wet trouts, us out
of water, out of place—
my skin a shade too light for a tribal ID,
yours dark with the Aztec love
of death and vultures.
I imagined we were wedded
beneath the arc of clasped hands
bangled with beaded spring flora.
That our flower girl would sprinkle
tobacco leaves instead of rose petals
before you plucked me apart
with your blood-smudged claws.
That we would be gifted the names
we’d yearned for our whole lives.
But you are a boy
who likes boys and I
am a something that likes
everyone and I am picked
over before the drumming even ends.