My Daddy's Birth Certificate Says "Red"

my blood quantum certificate says:
fifty percent indian blood. (not a drop more.)

fifty percent something else. (white.)

there are ghosts in my throat
with thousand-year-old unfinished business
and i’m full of tears from streams that dried before i was born.
my ancestors (a pile of ancient, unsteady stones) send me messages in the form of stomachaches and hawks

it aches deep inside me,

through the territories of trauma,

past the last six hundred years,

through the waters we’ve lost.

i think about having a baby.

but my baby could never be more than half of a half-breed.

how could i stand to give my baby
even less belonging than i have?

but those stones.
those ancient, standing stones.
inside me, a fire heats them to a glow. the fire is alive.

the stones are, too. 


Siobhan Roca Payne is not very punctual or polite, but she’s trying. She’s member of the Oneida Tribe, and most of her work explores what it means—and how to live as—a white passing native. Currently based in Chicago, Siobhan will receive her MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago next year. You can keep up with her on Twitter at @vonngoblin. You could also try screaming into the void—eventually, she’ll scream back.

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