Her First First Nations Boyfriend

That summer
she saddled a cabin of tank tops and shorts
and rode them every day.
But at night, the counsellors collected elsewhere.
She spent her time speculating:
which cigarette liked which scrunchie?
The older blonds, coasting
between semesters of limestone,
got claimed pronto.
The juniors breathed in almost
any smoke that drifted their way.
Herbie floated toward her.

Stablehand Herbie unafraid
of hooves and teeth,
impervious to blowflies and gelding,
tentative with the scrunchies,
and why not?  His absent front teeth
emitted words with the gees scraped off.
She knew he was puckered for her.
At fifteen, any cigarette
was better than none.
She didn’t understand the Mexico that lay
between them until fall, when
they each returned to their bricks or boards,
promising to write.

His first alphabet arrived,
the address barely readable,
the letters scattered stars
absent of constellation.
Inside, also, a gift,
a flat and patterned necklace.
As she decoded
the few words on the page
she understood his Mexico
was a land of longhouses,
an ocean away from her settled existence.

His grandmother rattled the seed pattern.
Her grandmother drank from handpainted bone.
His wrong alphabet spelled the gulf
between his hooves and her feathers.
She delayed answering.
What would she say?
Eventually she forgot to alphabet him back.

Sue Reynolds is a writer and psychotherapist whose area of interest is writing for therapeutic benefit. She has won awards for her YA novel, short stories, poems, and non-fiction. She teaches writing in various settings and has led writing workshops for inmates at Central East Correctional Centre for 12 years.

Sue was an honourable mention for the 2016 Vallum Award for Poetry, to view submission guidelines for the 2017 Vallum Award for Poetry click here!

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