The History in My Blood
Indian blood is precious, every
drop counts. Me, I’m whitewashed
so I lean hard
on that tribal card and papers
from the BIA. Look, here’s proof!
Evidence of my Native-ness, and suddenly
I’m something special. I can go
to the free Indian clinic, get my teeth
polished with my blood. I picked up
a smattering of scholarships,
all little, but still
it was my descent that splattered
the applications. I check “other”
on all those forms that list White
Black Hispanic Asian and forget about Indians. Like
we were never here.
like we’ve forgotten. Ridiculous,
we remember everything.
It’s here, in our veins, our arteries, rushing
to and from our hearts because we,
we’re marked as Other. Different.
And they’re thirsty for the red stuff.
Do you want something sweet?
Your toddler came at me like a bacchanal,
mouth open with desire. Imagine
being that trusting, certain
that what was placed on your tongue would please,
the sugar grains scrubbing down your palate,
the ghee melting like perfection down your throat.
Kadri didn’t know I called the besan ladoo sandballs,
that they required the perfect mix of chickpea
and kadalai maavu, that the elachi was the secret
or that you had to sieve the flour just right. All he knew
was that sweet was something good, that hands
were made for his pleasure. Imagine
being that naïve, the beauty in opening your mouth.
—From Bad Indian By J. C. Mehta. Mehta is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a native Oregonian.