Ash knows what it's like
to pretend, to fake something
because that's easier
than trying to explain the truth
to every idiot passing through her life.
There was one summer in her teens that
she spent with her Lakota cousins-by-marriage
during which she met a neighbor
who at the time was pretending to be a boy
in accordance with the body's shape.
Ash, at the time, was frustrated by how
all the other teenagers were pairing up,
and how it made her feel left out
because she didn't want to
do that with anyone.
So Ash and Skan pretended
to be boyfriend and girlfriend.
The other teenagers accepted them then
on the trail rides and fishing trips
and visits to the ice cream stand.
It was nice to be accepted.
Still, something itched about it,
something out of place,
something as uncomfortable
as a wrinkle in a saddle blanket,
unseen but always felt just the same.
So they parted company at the end of summer,
parted as friends and went their separate ways.
Ash explored her feeli