How Do You Know?

by Armand Garnet Ruffo
Because she's the one who tells her father
she'll be gone for the day
joins you
and never returns.

Because she knows how to let the past go,
and encourages you to do the same,
to open yourself as you would your cabin door
to the medicine winds of spring.

Because she has wings, transparent bright wings,
that you want so much to hold and tame
you sit up nights watching her sleep
your arms aching with emptiness.

Because she lets you call her beautiful Insect
even though she carries her share
and doesn't complain
she's not used to snowshoeing 70 miles.

Because she cooks so deadly you're afraid to eat.
Drinks and plays cards.
Argues fiercely
and goes for your revolver
to shoot up your moosejuice party.
Stabs you with your own skinning knife,
then cries hysterically seeing you hurt.

Because this is the woman who somersaults your life
who can't bear to watch you club beaver to death.
Who makes you see, as she sees,
the suffering you inflict.

How do you know
she's the woman? Because:
she's the only one who beats you to the draw,
and walks out on you.

From Grey Owl: The Mystery of Archie Belaney, Coteau Books.

© 1996 Armand Garnet Ruffo

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