The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Through a Red Place by Rebecca Pelky

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Solstice Black, is from Through a Red Place by Rebecca Pelky, released by Perugia Press in 2021. 

The Whites of New York

	~A Last of the Mohicans found poem

		What have you left to us of land, what have you left of game,
		What have you brought but evil, and curses since you came?
		How have you paid us for our game? how paid us for our land?
		By a book, to save our souls from the sins you brought in your 
		     other hand. ~E. Pauline Johnson (Mohawk)

The white men are coming!
The white men are coming!
A white man leads the way.
A good deal sullied, the white man, armed
(the gift of the white man lies in his arms).
The white man, judging.
Whites, the most dangerous of all.
The white man loosened his knife.

The white man, observing the Indian:
I am genuine white, a white man
who has no taint, who has the full blood
of the whites. My judgment is greater.
I am a man of white blood, and being a white-
skin, I will not deny my nature.

But you are just a man.

The white man, shaking his head.
What to do with these dumb creatures,
muttered the white man (it is rare
for a white voice to pitch itself properly).
Go, said the white man.
The white man prevailed. White blood,
blood of the whites. It is not to be denied
that evil has been mainly done
by men with white skins.

White fathers. 
				             White usurpers. 

						                     White flag.

								                       Christian whites. 
		         White veins. 
				                White eyes. 

								                        White hunter.
White uniforms.

			                   White warrior.

				                       White quarrel. 

									                              White cunning. 

				                       White experience.

The notions of white men. 

			              Fabrication of the whites.

								                     Execution, the white men.

Rebecca Pelky is a member of the Brothertown Indian Nation of Wisconsin and a native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Her first poetry collection was Horizon of the Dog Woman (Saint Julian Press, 2020). Her second collection, Through a Red Place (Perugia Press, 2021), won the Perugia Press Prize. Pelky’s co-authored hiking guide to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was published by FalconGuides in 2021. She holds a PhD from the University of Missouri, an MFA from Northern Michigan University, and is an Assistant Professor of Film Studies at Clarkson University in Upstate NY.

Solstice Black (she/they) is a queer poet and novelist living in the Pacific Northwest. They are currently undertaking a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in ChautauquaThe Fantastic Other, and A Forest of Words, among others. They hope to pursue an MFA in creative writing and a BFA in visual art in the next few years. Her cat is both her greatest joy and torment.


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