The Skookum Indian

Derek Sheffield Click to read more...

Derek Sheffield’s book of poems, Through the Second Skin (Orchises, 2013), was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award.  His poems have appeared in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Orion and The Southern Review.  He lives with his family in the foothills of the Cascades near Leavenworth, WA, and he is the poetry editor of Terrain.org.

since 1921, Wenatchee, WA

Above the Dollar Tree those dark eyes
shift side to side all day and all night.
Now and then one of them winks.

He’s a giant motorized head, this Indian of ours,
with a cartoon nose and long dark braids.
Above the Dollar Tree those dark eyes

shadow us wherever we drive,
googly holes welded to a wobbling sky
where now and then one of them winks.

A grin big as a sunset that won’t die
promises a brand of apples long dead
beside the Dollar Tree. (Those dark eyes.)

We mostly forget, but tourists want pictures
of his huge cheeks, red and sweet as Fujis.
Now and then one of them winks

back. His name means strong or monstrous.
The tilt of his single feather never alters.
Above the Dollar Tree those dark eyes.
Now and then one of them winks.

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