On the paved road
with the yellow line
I fly out and up
from my electric car
descending, through exhaust and honking horns.
I’ve traveled here before
I am, again, the Native Princess
the cowgirl flying her pretend pony through dust
beneath the concrete.
I kneel in the gentle dirt where I was nurse,
pat, pat, patting the legs of wounded soldier boys,
fix, fix, fix I said as I made them whole,
as I healed them
as I loved them
That stretch of road
childhood, printed there in the earth
my blossoming womanhood, too
where nighttime held us, me and my lovely boy,
till the cruiser came and shined its light on my bare breasts
cruel trick of light trading beauty for shame.
That stretch of road,
once dust, now paved,
where mother spied my feckless mate
brightly bending toward the blond
came telling me,
came giving me
sharp keys to liberation,
escape from dead illusions,
consent to fly away
On that old dirt road, I once flew free.
Now, in wheels on pavement, at 35 miles per hour
Preparing for the final act on 19th and Alameda Street.
The Native maiden…the nurse, fix, fix, fixing,
the wild-haired cowgirl flying the painted pony,
the restless wife poised for flight,
now I, the aged artist, not yet done
I pick the brush—the Scotch broom
sweep, sweep, sweep my den
and wait for the soldiers,
and the cowboys,
and the beautiful boy.
Elisa Peterson is a maker, designer, artist and story teller. Lately, she’s been writing and illustrating small personal memoir essays that explore what she calls “unreported damages” and “retroactive repairs.” In all her work, whether visual or in print, she is fascinated with story—the hidden, unknown, unconscious store—the ironic, humorous, serendipitous story that drives and colors our lives. She is a native Tacoman.