White Girl Powwow Love, 1978

by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie

She was skinny and buttermilk-pale.
She wore her hair with a rattail.
And I knew I'd two-step to jail

For her love, which was the no-fail
Pick-up line that year. "Me in jail,"
I said. "Only you got the bail

To rescue me." She smelled like stale
Everything, and though I was frail,
I talked her into chucking the bale

And "later"-ing her Dad, a whale
Who thought everything was for sale,
Especially the sacred. So we sailed,

Her and me, on the powwow trail,
Until my dirty joke splat-failed—-
The porno punchline was "Snails."

White Girl Angry, she dug her nails
Into my skin and said, "Why males
Have to heave and hove and dog wail

Such awful shit?" She was a gale—-
A storm through a trailer park vale—-
An F-5 on the tornado scale—-

And I wanted to aside her veil
And touch and memorize her pale
Skin like a blind man touches Braille,

And so I did. Damn, I went flail
On her breasts, and that tough rail
Of a girl went all weakness and quail.

I thought I was all rez-prevail,
But then she put on her chainmail
Armor and golf-ball-sized hailed

Me with this confessional tale:
"My Daddy is a goddamn Whale
Killer," she said. "Ain't no scale

To weigh his evil. His devil pail
Is filled to the brim." She wailed
Tears like anvils and then bailed

On me. She ran back down the trail,
And I ran after her, but I failed
To catch her. Her pain gave her sails.

And though I never saw her pale
Self again, I pray, without fail,
When I think of her stuck in jail,

Or maybe still walking powwow trail—-
A white girl, skinny, hard, and frail—-
And likely wed to a killer of whales.

Last updated July 12, 2015