they can tell time by looking at the sun
they can
hear the buffalo running two hundred miles away
even if they live in Chicago or
Minneapolis or Farmington
they can heal your broken leg with a wey-ya hey-ya chant
if there’s no doctor at IHS because the
funding for the year ran out
they go on vision
quests where all sorts of magic happens in the mind and outside
especially the vision quests that non-Indians pay two
thousand dollars for
those are extremely magical
the Indians their animals can talk except for
the dogs which
they eat in a soup
they speak in mystic pronouncements that fall out of their mouths
heavy with magic even if they’re just
laughing about what Donna said at bingo on Friday
when white people ask them the Indians will say with a magical wink
that the trees speak with the rustling of their leaves
and the river warns you away
from its depths as it rushes over the rocks
I will say that you should be careful
about the particular magic in the owl’s call and
that the feathers from the wanbli are especially
laden with magic so don’t touch them
at the powwow if you go
and since you asked the dreamcatchers are magical too
the ones made in China

if all those things are

I guess my grandfather
and how he could still smile after all those deep winter nights
at the boarding school
my grandmother
and how she kept her Dakota heart safe inside

they must have been
the greatest magicians of all


Susannah Walker

Susannah Walker is an enrolled member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and a descendant of the Santee Sioux tribe of Nebraska. She has studied in France, taught English in Colombia, and went to graduate school at UNC. She currently works in western Canada and teaches courses in Indigenous Social Work.

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