I feel like I owe the world some explanation
for the breakdown where I live.
In truth I owe it nothing more
than to live as if I was whole
while not forgetting I am not,
but the feeling remains.
When I tell my Story in public
I don’t mention feathers or powwows
or drums. I don’t Speak of my old regalia
still hanging stiff with age
in my parents’ basement,
or of my memories of a late night fire
that was never left unattended.
These things are not for you to know;
they are all I have
and living here and now
has left me unsure of holding even those
long enough to take them to my grave.
When I tell my story in public
I do not speak Italian either.
Raised with that tongue till school
erased it. Much as my father lost his
when they took him away to school.
That is all there is to say to you
about Italian and my tongue;
there are more things to say
but they are not for you to know;
living here and now has left me unsure
of holding even those
long enough to take them when I go.
I feel as if an explanation is owed to someone
for the breakdown where I live
though I know there’s nothing owed to
anyone, really, on this side and possibly the next;
the feeling is strong nonetheless
and it drives me to speak in riddles such as this one
so let me say this:
when I tell my story in public
I am forced to shout it from the bottom
of a slot canyon. It does not carry well
to the top of the opposing walls.
I hold back more than I release
to keep from bringing the half-informed
to where I am, knowing how seldom
they arrive ready to listen.
In spite of the isolation here,
I believe I’ve done right by myself.
I feel I’ve done right by myself,
as right as I can,
but I still feel like an explanation
is owed to someone.