Angeline

Some time back in the 1980s I was sitting in a courtyard at the Pike Place Market, downtown Seattle, where there was a tree beginning to bloom. A custodian friend named Mary said, “That’s Angeline’s tree.” “Who’s Angeline?” I asked, and she told me that Angeline was Chief Seattle’s daughter, that she had lived in a little house very near the tree, and that people say they see her ghost sometimes walking through the Market at night. I loved the idea and kept it with me. Later on I learned that she was the eldest of three, that her name had been Kikisoblu, and that she had refused to leave when all the native people were told to move out of the way of “progress.” She went about her business day to day, with the measured purpose of beautiful refusal.

in this beautiful country
in which I’m living
there is a story that you’ll find
about a woman named
Kikisoblu
and how they called her Angeline

Angeline, Kikisoblu

she was the eldest
daughter of Chief Seattle
she watched the world disappear
she said “you can
build your town around me
I’m not going anywhere”

Angeline, Kikisoblu

it was the fine and expensive
wife of Doc Maynard
who defined her into something to be owned
when she said, “you’re much too beautiful
for such an ugly name
from now on you will be known

as Angeline, not Kikisoblu”

and they made her illegal
and all of her people
and the children threw rocks behind her back
but Kikisoblu
had some rocks of her own
and she threw them back

Angeline, Kikisoblu

landlord, landlord
look over your shoulder
careful who you’re talking to
maybe somebody
you stole something from
come to take it back from you

Angeline, Kikisoblu

so many thieves
for all that they have taken
they leave us with a world full of holes
but we have rocks
and we have heroes
and we will not do what we are told

Angeline, Kikisoblu