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Sample Poems by Kimberly L. Becker


The Cherokee in Me
 
Cleaning up the mess
you left last night:
the shot glass sticky with reproach,
assorted plates and pots.
 
They scrub clean.
Not so the words
I can’t expunge
with sponge.
 
I put the things
I can to right.
Wipe down counters,
table, stove,
 
all the while remembering I’d read
that a Cherokee woman
could set her man’s belongings outside
if she wanted him to leave.
 
I keep this up my sleeve.


Ghost Dance Dress
 
The sign, underscored by security,
says No Photography.
Even a poem must keep its distance
as we do, perforce, from the dress
 
behind the glass.
Some things you don’t defame by cataloging.
Even if I tried describing
the meticulous craft of the dress,
 
I would still fail to make explicit
the dress’s spirit.
In its stillness
I see beauty under duress.
 
I see peaceful resistance
in the form of defiant dance.
In the dress’s presence
I feel reverence.
 
I see the dress in swirling snow.
See women and infants, now
long dead, lying bloodied
at Wounded Knee.
 
I step away
from the display
for a minute,
but am called back by the dress’s infinite
 
power to witness.
The dress’s insistence that wrongs weren’t redressed.
The Black female guard
looks at me, hard.


Destroying the Spider’s Web

I watch with wary interest as she crochets
her ornate dwelling behind the wicker
sofa on the porch, where during summer days
 
I like to work.  The mother waits, thick
with sacs becoming spiderlings.
When they finally hatch, they move quicker
 
than you would’ve thought. I debate the thing
to do. Contemplate another trip to
the ER with swollen arm and growing
 
fever; decide the spiders have to go.
With a stick and a pie pan I dislodge
them; mother first then babies, with no
 
trouble. Carry the odd oblation to the edge
of the yard, keeping family together as
best I can, meanwhile trying to dodge
 
the ones that try to jump free. With a glass
of water I dash out the rest.  I’ll miss
them somewhat, the silken colony that was
 
such a lively curiosity. And this:
I hope they prosper. I hope they forgive
me my needful destruction. So much done with mis-
 
giving in the web of things that live.


Beloved Woman 
Where are your women? —Attakullakulla
 
A friend wonders
whether she should leave.
 
I listen.
Put in my ten cents.
 
(Knowing she’ll do
what only she can do.)
 
I’m not a Beloved Woman.
My counsel doesn’t seal the fate of any man.
 
Still, I believe I understand
how it hurts not to be beloved.
 
I tell my friend she’s beautiful
and has more power than she thinks.
 
I tell myself this also
(quietly and only in odd hours.)