Tricycles

 

Was my mother’s bike red,
like mine?

 

The past looks the same,
as we bike with our sisters,
through familiar neighborhoods.

 

I look at my mother’s face,
and can hear her stories of,
being 10 years old, 
speaking no English,
then, had to.

 

Alaska’s statehood brought
strange customs.


No longer allowed to roam freely
on her island to watch bears
from her secret spot in the trees.


The village too,
moved from our beautiful tribal place,
by the ocean.


To a place that overlooked
unnatural shaped,
buildings and water towers.


Considered stubborn, was my mother
for her shared ideals
of other native children asking,
“Why do we have to change?”


We did change—
and the language of my mother,
my grandmother,
are almost foreign to me.

 

Yet,
we both share our love for Alaskan summers,
of dry fish, seaweed, herring eggs,

 

And of ripe berries that hung heavy
in the full coffee cans strung about our necks.

 

I am far way.
And the berries, now frozen
are saved for limited discretions to the palate.

 

I miss the ocean.
And the only thing that gives me
total connection to my homeland,
is the rain.

 

I slip on my raincoat,
face the sky
and let warm tears
roll with cool rain
down my face.

 

Looking back,
          at girls
                on tricycles,

 

fast moving
on gravel and paved streets,
with no cares—

But, to stay balanced
on three uncertain wheels.


Alaska Native Writers Award for Literature 1st Place (poetry) and published in Explorations 2000, a magazine sponsored by the University of Alaska in Southeast (UAS Academic Programs) and Anchorage (UAA College of Arts and Sciences).