Remembering Auntie Out Loud

By Terra Trevor

Aunt Josephine sits in her wheelchair. At eighty her hair is still mostly black, but she is too despondent to do more than sigh. Names and questions won’t stick in her mind.

I still have Aunt Lydia. Wrinkled, shrunken, ten years older than her sister Jo, dark black eyes gone yellow, but with a memory bank of a mind. Without pausing she tells me stories, a web of words, the same ones I remember from childhood.

After we fill up on pies and cakes, cameras are brought out. But I don’t have any pictures of my dad’s side of the family. The film was overexposed the day we all lined up according to our generation.

For the first photograph the great aunts and uncles are grouped together. These are my grandpa’s siblings, and the line doesn’t hold a white face.

The next group is my dad, my auntie Joan and all of their cousins—the first half-blood generation in our family. It gives eyes of blue, hazel, wavy or straight brown hair.

My brother, sister, and I stand with the largest group of mixed blood Cherokee, Delaware, Seneca cousins. We are not full bloods or even half, and yet we’re not white and never will be. And soon enough we will become the Elders.

First published in Yukhika-latuhse Literary Journal, Oneida Nation Arts Program
Copyright © Terra Trevor. All rights reserved.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in California with roots in Colorado and Oklahoma, Terra Trevor is a widely published writer of a diverse body of work, a contributing author of 10 books, and an editor at River, Blood, And Corn. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies, literary journals and online. She was raised in a verbal tradition rich with storytelling, and is happiest near water.

"We have stories / as old as the great seas / breaking through the chest / flying out the mouth, / noisy tongues that once were silenced, /all the oceans we contain / coming to light." —Linda Hogan

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