Janice Gould


I’m driving to Steilacoom
in the blue VW bug
I bought with my cannery wages.
I’m driving there because
you told me you like that word.
“Steilacoom, Steilacoom,”
you would say.  Not much
in that Indian place,
but I’m driving north
because you might be there,
standing by the tracks, contemplating
the water that laps against the cold shore.
Because winter is a desperate time—too much
rain, too much snow—and friendless—
too many shadows, too much alone.
Maybe in Steilacoom we will embrace.
How many years I wished for that!
Perhaps in Steilacoom you will take
my hand, forgive my inconsistencies,
sit with me, watchful, till a sudden sun
pours down its light,
brightening Puget Sound, offering
a far view of mountains, beckoning
and proud.  Beyond that I want nothing.
Only to see you in Steilacoom,
Steilacoom, only to find you
in that town.

Janice Gould’s tribal affiliation is Koyoonk’auwi (Concow). Her poetry has been honored with a “Spirit of the Springs” Award, by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Astraea Foundation, the Pikes Peak Arts Council and the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe. Her most recent book of poetry, Doubters and Dreamers, was a Colorado Book Award Finalist and a Milt Kessler Book Award Finalist. Janice is an Associate Professor in Women’s and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, where she directs the certificate in Native American Studies. She is the Pike’s Peak Poet Laureate for 2014-2016.