Roberta Hill Whiteman

(1947 / Oneida Nation of Wisconsin)

Reaching Yellow River


"It isn't a game for girls,"
he said, grabbing a fifth
with his right hand,
the wind with his left.

"For six days
I raced Jack Daniels.
He cheated, told jokes.
Some weren't even funny.

That's how come he won.
It took a long time
to reach this Yellow River.
I'm not yet thirty,

or is it thirty-one?
Figured all my years
carried the same hard thaw.
Out here, houselights hid

deep inside the trees.
For awhile I believed this road
cut across to Spring Creek
and I was trucking home.

I could kid you now,
say I ran it clean,
gasping on one lung,
loaded by a knapsack

of distrust and hesitation.
I never got the tone
in all the talk of cure.
I sang Honor Songs, crawled

the railroad bridge to Canada.
Dizzy from the ties,
I hung between both worlds.
Clans of blackbirds circled

the nearby maple trees.
The dark heart of me said
no days more than these.
As sundown kindled the sumacs,

stunned by the river's smile,
I had no need for heat,
no need to feel ashamed.
Inside me then the sound

of burning leaves. Tell them
I tumbled through a gap on the horizon.
No, say I stumbled through a hummock
and fell in a pit of stars.

When rain weakened my stride,
I heard them singing
in a burl of white ash,
took a few more days to rave

at them in this wood.
Then their appaloosas nickered
in the dawn and they came
riding down a close ravine.

Though the bottle was empty,
I still hung on. Foxtails beat
the grimace from my brow
until I took off my pain

like a pair of old boots.
I became a hollow horn filled
with rain, reflecting everything.
The wind in my hand

burned cold as hoarfrost
when my grandfather nudged me
and called out
my Lakota name."

Submitted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Form:


Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Reaching Yellow River by Roberta Hill Whiteman )

  • Rookie - 343 Points F. J. Thomas (7/23/2014 8:39:00 AM)

    Wow...all I have right now...wow. Yellow River, unique I would think. I read hoping to grasp an understanding of the seeming pain; and then I reached the bottom and realized it was a journey, just not the common one. Amazing Roberta. (Report) Reply

Read all 1 comments »

Famous Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  3. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  4. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. Caged Bird
    Maya Angelou
  8. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  9. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  10. A Dream Within A Dream
    Edgar Allan Poe
Trending Poets
Trending Poems
  1. ACROSS THE ROOM, Thembi ngadlela
  2. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  3. I know we just met, andy woltjen
  4. A Dream Within A Dream, Edgar Allan Poe
  5. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  6. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  7. Invictus, William Ernest Henley
  8. Daffodils, William Wordsworth
  9. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  10. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
[Hata Bildir]