Indian Boarding School: The Runaways

INDIAN BOARDING SCHOOL:  THE RUNAWAYS

By Louise Erdrich

Home’s the place we head for in our sleep.
Boxcars stumbling north in dreams
don’t wait for us.  We catch them on the run.
The rails, old lacerations that we love,
shoot parallel across the face and break
just under Turtle Mountains.  Riding scars
you can’t get lost.  Home is the place they cross.

The lame guard strikes a match and makes the dark
less tolerant.  We watch through cracks in boards
as the land starts rolling, rolling till it hurts
to be here, cold in regulation clothes.
We know the sheriff’s waiting at midrun
to take us back.  His car is dumb and warm.
The highway doesn’t rock, it only hums
like a wing of long insults.  The worn-down welts
of ancient punishments lead back and forth.

All runaways wear dresses, long green ones,
the color you would think shame was.  We scrub
the sidewalks down because it’s shameful work.
Our brushes cut the stone in watered arcs
and in the soak frail outlines shiver clear
a moment, things us kids pressed on the dark
face before it hardened, pale, remembering
delicate old injuries, the spines of names and leaves.


For a bio on the author of this poem, click on the link to The Poetry Foundation:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/louise-erdrich

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s