Curled underneath the beading table with the unshoed feet of women, you hear things you’d never want to know. Or things you do. Maybe it’s the needles, Poney Number Twelve, so straight and fine they slip right through the toughest hide. Maybe it is my own big ears that catch everything, and more. Maybe it’s the colors of the seed beads that work up in stitches so intimate and small—collect, collect—until you have a pattern to the anguish.
We dogs know what the women are really doing when they are beading. They are sewing us all into a pattern, into life beneath their hands. We are the beads on the waxed string, pricked up by their sharp needles. We are the tiny pieces of the huge design that they are making—the soul of the world.
See here, Rozin says, holding out her work with a trembling hand. We dogs know already what happened down in Gakahbekong and why she left for her mothers’ house. Her twin mothers. Well, she doesn’t know which one of them is actually her blood mother. They won’t tell her. But she also was a twin, at first anyway, and so she is not confused that her mother comes as a set.
She left the city because her own child breathed poison and was spirited off to the other side of the world. Deanna passed through the western door. Her father didn’t. He slept off his whiskey head and went out to the garage the next morning. The truck had shut down. Had to use the gas can he kept for the lawn mower. Mad at himself, he drove to town for aspirin or maybe the hair of the dog. Decided against that last remedy. Bought groceries. Loading the pickup, he dragged the coats off his little girl. At first, he thought she was sleeping.
Rozin. She swam in the grief, she cooked with it, she bagged it up and froze it. She made a stew, burned it out in the backyard, dug a hole and threw it in, sacked it for garbage, put it up on a shelf, brought it to the trees she loved, and set it free out in the leaves. She worshiped it, curled around it like a sweet dog, smoothed the hair of her remaining daughter underneath her hand, and decided to have nothing to do with men. Rozin left her husband and her lover both behind. Took her daughter Cally and came north to live with Zosie, Mary, and me, Almost Soup, once again.
Let me tell you about this flower, she rambles to her mothers now, this leaf, this heart-in-a-heart, this wild rose, this child of mine.
She knows everything about me.
What things, for instance?