From Whereas. Pub­lished by Grey­wolf Press in 2017. Long Sol­dier is a re­cip­i­ent of a Lan­nan Lit­er­ary Fel­low­ship, a Na­tive Arts and Cul­tures Foun­da­tion Na­tional Artist Fel­low­ship and a Whit­ing Award. She lives in Santa Fe, NM.

Geist - - Findings - LAYLI LONG SOL­DIER

WHEREAS a string-bean blue-eyed man leans back into a swig of beer work-weary lips at the dark bot­tle keep­ing cool in short sleeves and khakis he en­ters the dis­cus­sion;

Whereas his wrist loose at the bot­tle­neck he comes across as can­did “Well, at least there was an Apol­ogy, that’s all I can say” he of­fers to the cir­cle each of them schol­arly;

Whereas un­der starlight the fire­flies wink across east coast grass I sit there painful in my si­lence glued to a bench in the midst of the Amer­i­can ca­sual;

Whereas a sub­tle elec­tric­ity in that low pur­ple light I felt their eyes on my face gaug­ing a re­ac­tion and some­one’s dis­com­fort leaks out in a well-stated “Hmmm”;

Whereas like a bird dart­ing from an on­com­ing semi my mind races to the Apol­ogy’s as­ser­tion:

“While the es­tab­lish­ment of per­ma­nent Euro­pean set­tle­ments in North Amer­ica did stir con­flict with nearby In­dian tribes, peace­ful and mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial in­ter­ac­tions also took place”;

Whereas I cross my arms and raise a curled hand to my mouth as if think­ing as if tak­ing it in I al­low a static quiet then choose to stand up ex­cus­ing my­self I leave them to un­ease;

Whereas I drive down the road re­play­ing the get-to­gether how a man and his beer bot­tle stated their piece and I reel at what I could have said or done bet­ter;

Whereas I could’ve but didn’t broach the sub­ject of “geno­cide” the ab­sence of this term from the Apol­ogy and its rephras­ing as “con­flict” for ex­am­ple;

Whereas since the mo­ment had passed I ac­cept what’s done and the knife of my con­science slices with bone-clean self-hon­esty;

Whereas in a stirred con­flict be­tween set­tlers and an In­dian that night in a cir­cle; Whereas I strug­gle to con­fess that I didn’t want to ex­plain any­thing; Whereas truth­fully I wished most to kick the legs of that man’s chair out from un­der him; Whereas to watch him fall back­ward legs flail­ing beer stench across his chest; Whereas I pic­tured it hap­pen­ing in cin­e­matic slow-mo­tion de­light­ful; Whereas the curled hand I raised to my mouth was a sign of in­de­ci­sion; Whereas I could’ve done it but I didn’t; Whereas I can ad­mit this also took place, yes, at least;

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