First Memory, Wisconsin Dells

The kind of Plains Indians
played by Italians in old Westerns
danced around a fire
that brought to light
feather-swaying headdresses
and the weaving paths
of moccasins made from buckskin
or what passed for it.

The chanting ended with what
white ears heard as “hey-a-ho,”
and the hired tribe took its bows
before the audience rose.
Among them, I was carried
into years that would not hold
summer camp or Europe,
or anyone who could tell of them.
Those who had brought me here
could afford this much.
They spent it, and more,
according to my need.

In a used Oldsmobile
I fell asleep on a ride
over gravel roads
that were, if dark,
straight and real.

—J.D. Smith, Washington, DC