(Michael) Chabitnoy. Aleut.
Because they were “of the water.”
Because they were given Russian names.
He was born with hushed words.
Because his mother had a bad heart and his father was traumatized.
They took him from the sea.
Because he came to the school charitably, before.
Because there is only one photo, after.
They told the skeptics, yes, it can be done.
Because it could be done.
Because “Indian Marries White Girl.”
Because he died of consumption.
There are words I can’t say.
Because he was survived by two sons.
Because they were called half-breed.
Because that second son took to drink.
I’ve always been afraid of the sea.
Because it doesn’t mean salmon-fisher.
Because I need to know I can say these words.
Because it means “mischievous, energetic.”
Mischievous men (and women) fish for salmon energetically.
Because he was an orphan.
Because in summer, my skin turns redder than my father’s.
Because they asked my mother, Is she adopted?
Because I too am of the water.
Because I hear these words.
I will split my bones and fit my skin to the sea.
I will shape my mouth to angle these words with the wind.