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By Janet Shell Anderson
Joshua Quiver’s dead, shot in Rapid protecting some Waisechu.
In the far, green meadows, larks sing.
But the sun walks out of Gethsemane Cemetery, into storm, and the rain comes down on my village, Wambli, on the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. One text, one sentence, and it’s as if the end of time walked out under the fan of dark cloud. I can hardly breathe.
The rain talks and talks, and I can taste its words. It talks about time.
I’m Regina Poorbear, third-grade teacher at Crazy Horse School, merit scholar, winner of prizes in science and mathematics at the University of Nebraska, twenty-two years old. I want to teach a Lakota genius in mathematics in the high school someday. And I will. I know it.
I love Joshua Quiver. Loved.
It’s April; all the prairie’s green, out to the dark sky, out to badlands, the Mako Sica, out to the end of the world. I’ll teach a Lakota genius in high school that time is an arrow, but I don’t know why that’s so. Why does time only move one way?
The rain tastes like salt, the rain tastes. I can only walk down the road, like the sun walked, tasting the rain. The rain falls arrowsharp. The larks sing the end of the world, the end of time, the silver sound, rainsound.
Shot. In Rapid. Protecting a White man. A robbery. This morning.
I see Annie Mae.
When the storms come and the dark and the black nights of the reservation, the desperation, I see Annie Mae. A ghost, an angel, a stranger, a vision, a concern, I don’t know what she is, but I see her and then moments later, she’s gone. I never tell anyone this, not even my grandmother.
Annie Mae Aquash, an activist, was murdered before I was born, ten miles from where I stand.
There are gangs here on the rez in Wambli, and starvation, sadness deeper than words, the memory of bad times, lost worlds. She tried to change it.
I see Annie Mae now in the green spring rain, walking along the highway, as if she’s going somewhere.
The kids in my third-grade class talk about seeing ghost cars on the back road between here and Interior. The Yuwipi men in the village talk about seeing “something” at night doings, ceremonies. They don’t talk about it to me, think I’m like a Waisechu. White.
She doesn’t say anything. An old rez dog joins us. He is gentle and dark, pants, walks slow. He greets Annie Mae, wags his tail at her.
Joshua can’t be dead.
The rain is heavier; sides of the trees are wet, branch and blossom. It’s so hard. Even walking down the hill, thinking about the wake we will have at Crazy Horse School, the burial, even trying to get used to it, so hard.
A thread of sound, a rainword that should not exist in the rational world, even here, even in Wambli. But I hear it.
Are the Yuwipi men right? Are the children right?
When the springs come again and again in Wambli and I teach mathematics and science in high school instead of third grade and the Yuwipi men don’t tell me anything and my grandmother who was the great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Crazy Horse lies in Gethsemane Cemetery, and the badlands melt in the downpours, and the young men in Wambli join gangs and leave them and live and die, and time gathers and gathers, when I have taught the genius who will understand time, will I see Joshua instead of Annie Mae?
In the green far rainy meadows, larks sing.
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