Absolom, the Long Hair
    Diane Glancy
A message came saying the last leaf had fallen from the tree. Afterwards he slept disturbed by dreams. He stretches out the heavens as a tent. They stand up together clattering the tent stakes. His wife, tired of hanging over a dark space, slept in another room. He rode his mule under the blue leaves suspended in trees. [Maybe Dakota ghost shirts printed with blue hands? but no, that was still ahead. The tribes (where did they know trees on the open prairie?) wore ghost-dance shirts Custer wouldn’t live to see. Blue hands grew from their stems. Osage Chief Bacon Rind. The Comanche. Kiowa. Shoshoni. The Cheyenne camps. They rode head-on into the oak (the ghost of the 7th calvary, no he meant cavalry) (the closeness of those 4-drive words!).] Nightmares running, shouting. Dreams with thick boughs in them. A giant oak caught A’s head in the fork of its low branch. Suspended between the heaven and earth, the mule under him went away.

Before the massacre, his wife baked five-pointed hands covered with blue icing.

He cut the legs off his straight-back chair. Cut the legs off one side of the table. Painted the table blue. A ramp for skate board or roller blade. Or make-shift stage. Not the way he would open the Indian wars (no, they were still ahead) or even a road show, the tent stakes clapping.

The Frisbee of all those scalps, he said in the crudest terms.

Isn’t it in the hereafter they eat as many cookies as they like?

The Iron Horse rumbled on the prairie where Absalom danced from his tree, a marionette with hands looping the air. Absalom brained his rack. He ghost danced his nightmares. He dreamed at the mercy seat of rebellion.

[In 1942, prisoners of war built a railroad from Burma to Thailand so Japan could invade India. The prisoners suffered cholera, dysentery, beri beri and ulcerated sores deep as bone. Every night they performed plays to keep themselves alive. Every play had a train.]

The soldiers thrust three arrows into the heart of A. The chair seat flying like a saucer with the runged back of an instrument panel, or a much larger Frisbee flying above the compacted fragments of the stage [which a train is.]

Diane Glancy is the author of numerous books of poetry, fiction, essays, and scripts. Her awards include an American Book Award, a Minnesota Book Award in Poetry, a Native American Prose Award, and a Sundance Screen-writing Fellowship. She is professor of Native American Literature and Creative Writing at Macalaster College in St. Paul.


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