- At the Riverview Hotel (December 1957)
We must listen closely if we are to hear at all, so low and guttural are their tones, these bronzed impassive women (girls, really): not giving away a thing in seeming to give all. They call, but only to one another: Hok-sah-ah, she-nah-gee, gun-naht! We do not understand.
From the hot rooms on the third floor we hear along the corridor through the long night sounds from honchee men and whites, occasional cries and shouts, but from these, Seneca girls, nothing, ever.
Downstairs, one by one, they are led past the truckers and hunters and drunks, to be pawed over, puked on, picked, and hauled to bed. These, noble girls of our boyhood, daughters of Raccoon, Beaver, and Bear, followers of the prophet Handsome Lake, these: Virginia, Lana, Maxine, whose silver bodies we watched through the leaves as they bathed in the river, the sunlight roving over them like our own desire.
Now, here, they are battered and punched, humped and slapped around by the men we have become.
Tonight, my friend and I, electricians by trade, take on Judith, jack into black-eyed, silent Judith, who sat between us in the seventh grade, drawing anatomically accurate pictures of stallions.
Works by Daniel Barnes
• At The Riverview Hotel (December 1957)
• A Seneca Boy
Daniel Barnes, a native of the Allegany Indian Reservation at Salamanca, NY, is Associate Professor of English at the Ohio State University, where he has taught folklore and American literature since 1968. His poetry has appeared in many journals, including Ohio Journal, Dreamworks, Poems & Plays and Riverrun.