A finalist for the Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry, Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz is published by Graywolf Press. The editor is Jeff Shotts. The winner will be announced on May 12. Here is a poem from this collection:
Native Americans make up less than
1 percent of the population of America.
0.8 percent of 100 percent.
O, mine efficient country.
I do not remember the days before America—
I do not remember the days when we were all here.
Police kill Native Americans more
than any other race. Race is a funny word.
Race implies someone will win,
implies, I have as good a chance of winning as—
Who wins the race that isn’t a race?
Native Americans make up 1.9 percent of all
police killings, higher per capita than any race—
sometimes race means run.
I’m not good at math—can you blame me?
I’ve had an American education.
We are Americans, and we are less than 1 percent
of Americans. We do a better job of dying
by police than we do existing.
When we are dying, who should we call?
The police? Or our senator?
Please, someone, call my mother.
At the National Museum of the American Indian,
68 percent of the collection is from the United States.
I am doing my best to not become a museum
of myself. I am going my best to breathe in and out.
I am begging: Let me be lonely but not invisible.
But in an American room of one hundred people,
I am Native American—less than one, less than
whole–I am less than myself. Only a fraction
of a body, let’s say, I am only a hand—
and when I slip it beneath the shirt of my lover
I disappear completely.
“American Arithmetic” from Postcolonial Love Poem © 2020, by Natalie Diaz. Reprinted with permission of Graywolf Books. All rights reserved.