A Jackalope Walks into an Indian Bar
As he hops to a stool, an old man yells, “Whoa. That’s a Jackalope.”
Jack freezes and waits. Then the old man says, “Ayyy” and everyone laughs. Jack jumps up and orders wheatgrass straight.
“My grandfather told me about Jackalopes,” says the old man. “Said you smelled funny.”
Jack twitches his nose. “No worse’n you,” he says. “Carnivore breath.”
Laughter again, then silence.
“And don’t you forget it,” says the old man. Then his brow furrows. “So how exactly did your parents do it?”
“Oh, they didn’t. A taxidermist in Wyoming grafted antlers onto a rabbit.”
“Come on, I don’t buy that. You’re among Indians. Tell me the truth.”
Everyone looks at him.
“Okay, we come from Mexico, east side of the Sierra Madre Mountains, where Rabbit and Deer are spirits, Sun and Moon. Somewhere down the line the White Man changed Deer to Antelope.” Everyone nods and a few mutter under their breath. Jack continues, “Our clans mixed together during a shaman’s peyote ceremony. So we are part factual and part mythology, like everyone.”
“I thought those visions weren’t real,” says Hawk, an urban Indian, but no one answers him.
“We are all made up of stories, some true and some less true,” says the old man.
Jack enjoys the ensuing silence and the tart taste of fresh wheatgrass. This is the best bar in town.
Later on, an old Lakota woman tells a story about a faithful dog that sat at her grandmother’s bedside, holding vigil. When the grandmother passed, the dog knew and walked out the door. When they looked, no tracks could be seen in the snow. [End Page 43]
North on River Road past the Kaw broken ice and fishing eagles.
Through floodplain Ice Age terraces staggered distant ahead.
East on Wellman Road and jagged turns dip between glaciated hills.
Pink granite erratics and black angus pinned on a sloping pasture
to the T road Dabinawa. Turn right into the dead end.
Fallen saplings shape a fence. Ice to the north, firepit in the center.
I circle stations of the four-way cross an Irish medicine wheel, enter from the East. [End Page 44]
Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-9, has published over 25 books of award-winning poetry and prose, most recently Mélange Block, Red Mountain Press. She taught at Haskell Indian Nations University, where she founded the creative writing program. She co-publishes Mammoth Publications, specializing in Central Plains and Indigenous authors. She has Delaware and British Isles heritage.