Sherman Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Indian, was born in 1966 on
the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. He received
his B.A. in American studies from Washington State University, Pullman.
His most recent book of poetry is One Stick Song (Hanging Loose, 2000).
He is also the author of novels and collections of short fiction. His honors
and awards include the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, the Before
Columbus Foundation's American Book Award, poetry fellowships from
the Washington State Arts Commission and the National Endowment for
the Arts, and a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award.


We are taught to take the bread
into our bodies
as proof of Jesus' body.

The bread is metaphor.
The bread is Jesus transubstantiated.
The bread is simply bread.

I have taken all three
of those tenets into my body
though I am Spokane Indian

and also take salmon
into my body
as proof of salmon.

The salmon is my faith returned.
The salmon is simply salmon.
The salmon is not bread.

Suddenly, we are wed
and I am just as surprised as you
that marriage has become our bread.

You, the Hidatsa Indian
from the North Dakota plains
who did not grow up with salmon

and me, the Spokane, who rarely trusts
the hands of the priest
as he delivers the bread.

During Eucharist, I am afraid
to close my eyes. I want to see
what has been set on the table before me.

Look, I don't know what
would help me believe
that we have become sacred.

Sweetheart, are we the stone
rolling from the mouth
of the tomb that cannot keep him?

Sweetheart, are we the salmon
rising from the mouth
of the river that cannot keep them?

If that was Easter
then the church was full
as we stood against the wall

praying for an empty pew.
If that was Easter
then I rose that morning

in love with you
though I rise every morning
from the water, more or less

in love with you.
If that was Easter
then you surprised me

by placing salmon on my tongue.
Then I surprised you
by swallowing it whole.

Amen, amen, amen.

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