The rain fell on the
shingles of the ancient roof without mercy. The federal government had
built these houses like this for the Ponca tribe around the turn of the
20th century, which made them approximately 55 years old. Outside boards
were weathered and probably never were painted. Inside walls were strips
of boards with a slight decorative look where they were joined together
in a horizontal pattern. Water dripped from the roof onto their piles of
clothes and possession the little family had moved from a castle like
house in the Osage where three stories filled with elegant furniture
housed them. The extended family of their father had called his wife,
“that Ponca woman,” and as soon as her husband’s mother died it was her
wish to live in the house where she had grown up, close to her Ponca
nation, no matter, that by this time it was nothing more than a shack.
A huge scorpion ambled in
a lazy way across the board floor and the baby was fascinated with it.
She was busily, quickly crawling over to reach out and grasp it.
“No! No! You can’t touch
it. Oh no! It will sting you,” her eldest sister’s anxious voice some
how or another penetrated the baby’s desire to grasp what looked to be a
The baby stopped just
long enough for the oldest girl to pin the thing to the boards with an
empty mop handle, but the child was still trying to reach for the
“No! No! Don’t touch it.
Can’t you see that mean stinger wiggling in the air! It isn’t dead and
if you touch that you will cry and cry!” All the while the girl was
talking to the baby she was shoving harder and harder on it until the
thing finally snapped and was still. Only then, did she, release
pressure on the poisonous insect, so the baby could be picked up.
The younger brothers and
sisters simply looked on at the scene in startled amazement. Her mother
seemed paralyzed by the unfolding event and could neither scream; nor,
could she run away. But somehow the happening had rallied her senses and
the woman spoke to her sons.
“See how many pans you
can get to set under these drips while I pick up these wet clothes.”
It was only a short while
later after the house had been roofed, boards nailed up and the interior
painted did the little dwelling become more livable to provide a haven
for them. No one ever after that discussed or thought about the ugliness
of the scorpion, not once.