I held out my gift to her,
a story I’d written for all children.
She approached shyly,
a distant trace of Asia in her eyes, hair and skin,
but this was one of America’s daughters,
from the reservation.
I’d read a page or two of chapter one aloud,
then told the class I’d brought books to share.
They came forward one by one.
I asked of their names so I might inscribe a
joyful note to each.
I wondered if she liked hawks.
She said she did,
her voice as quiet as the prairie wind.
I wrote a simple message:
I hope you will fly as high in your life
as the hawks do each day.
She smiled and thanked me, but before
she could escape, I asked a small favor.
After you finish reading it, I said,
please share it with your mother
and the rest of your family.
Her soft brown eyes flinched,
as if a soreness had been bumped.
Mom is in jail,
her voice quavering.
Stunned, I could not speak.
At last, a weak sound, perhaps the fading echo
of a trapped hawk’s cry of despair,
escaped my lips—
When she gets home will be soon enough
. . . j