for Jim Thorpe (Wa-Tho-Huk/Bright Path) and J.M. Lopez
Jim was always running away from schools, and who knows
what else. One of the greatest athletes in the world is born
in what is called Indian Territory, but on this continent isn’t it all.
He is a Bright Path, a Mark of Lightning. At nine his twin dies in Indian
Agency school and Jim believes brother gives him
Strength—a muscled quickness. So much death. Is that what
keeps him running? And what about me? And my own ghost
twin Brother. How big he grows, memory tries to fill in
that loss, my own mark. I am no athlete, but I’m always
running from something—a city I feared would eat
me whole, instead it came for Brother—such sharp teeth the night
as. I wonder if Jim was at his brother’s side when he died
of pneumonia or was he somewhere running. Does he mean to never
leave, promise, and then still leave? I want to never leave Brother’s
side as he is moved from concrete–gurney–hospital bed.
I want to be lightning, nature’s muscle that can crack
bullet from gun. I want the stars in my palms, fire in my hands.
I want to hold Brother’s warmth a bit longer, for his heart to thump
and thump and thump. For it to sing me the song I need
most. Thorpe’s son dies still filled with such want, longs for his father’s
remains, for them to be returned to their homelands, for ash to find
its place in their red earth. I keep Brother within me, next to
grandmother’s river valley and grandfather’s orange trees—sweet
rind of history I cultivate even as I run from it.