First Firefly

This morning I woke up thinking about Donny, and that got me to thinking about my cousin Debbie. We are both mixed bloods; American Indian born and raised. When we were teenagers, I wanted to look like her, full Cherokee. Especially on that day in 1967. While I held in my stomach, wearing a one piece, she ate fry bread wearing that brown string bikini, tan skinned and thin, like a Pocahontas Barbie.

She leaned over and whispered that Richard Rustywire asked her to go steady. I had my eye on Johnny Drinkingwater. Later that afternoon, after we left the pool that everyone called the Plunge, Debbie and some of the others went in to town, while I went back to her house where I staying, and sat on the porch swing, reading, waiting for a cool breeze and the full moon to rise. But before that happened I saw white beads of light, flashing off and on all over the yard. And it was the way I always wanted to remember a summer night—the night of my first firefly, and my first kiss.

While I was sitting on the porch reading Donny came over. I’d had my eye on him all afternoon too. Donny he kissed me under a bead blue sky, behind Auntie’s clothesline, between the sheets. We stood barefoot, toes touching, arms entwined. His eyes searching mine, while his blond hair blew across my face. His voice cracked when he asked, “Is this the first time you’ve been kissed?"

As we stood together under a spirit sky, with purple violets blooming in my mind, I answered “No.” But I was thinking “Yes.” Because the kiss I gave to the one who lost interest in me, didn’t count after he realized I was an Indian girl.

In a sorrow-filled voice his sister said, “I don’t know why, but my brother only goes out with white girls.” But her brother wasn’t white and I wasn’t white enough for him. Me—a high yellow girl with light brown hair that shined blonde in sunlight.

So the way I saw it was that I was starting out again, and this time, this boy wasn’t disappointed that I'm not all white, and he wasn't impressed that I'm Native, and in that malachite moment he was just kissing ME.

For Donny 
September 5, 1952 - June 12, 2008 
Thank you for sweet memories in the summers of 1967 and 1968