In their youth my sisters threw $20 bills around
like grains of rice tossed at a wedding. It was the marriage of
America and her destiny: forests white as winter but
warm; branches shining and crinkling like cellophane,
the smell of newness like the front seat of a
showroom car.

The wealthy are connoisseurs of bark decorated with
bird quills and beads, pine needle baskets, arrowheads fashioned by
flint and blows. They’re spend fabulous sums on artifacts made by
Native Americans, particularly dead ones.

I am Native to the America of cellophane forests and thrown bills.
My children, hustling for bucks to stay alive, are Native Americans too.
But whatever wealth my Native American grandchildren can hope for
will be measured in fresh water, flying birds, pine needles,
fish, and time.



Barbara LaMorticella

About Barbara LaMorticella

Barbara LaMorticella lives in the woods outside Portland, Oregon. She’s a long-time co-host of KBOO radio’s Talking Earth poetry program. Her second collection of poems, Rain on Waterless Mountain, was a finalist or the Oregon Book Award.
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