Craig Womack

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Craig Womack

Muscogee Creek-Cherokee author and professor Craig Womack is an advocate for using poststructural and postcolonial approaches to reading Native American literature. He holds a Master’s and Ph.D. from South Dakota State University and University of Oklahoma, respectively. He has produced a novel, Drowning in Fire, as well as several critical works. He is a member of the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers’ National Caucus.

From Drowning in Fire


Josh Henneha, Weleetka, Oklahoma, 1964

“Don’t worry, son. Your Aunt Lucille knows what to do when it hurts.” I put my arms around his neck, and he lifted me from beneath the covers. I held one hand over my throbbing ear and tensed each time I felt the pulse of pain.

Shh…shh….You’ll be all right.” My uncle patted my head, and I leaned over and lay against his neck, wiping my tears on his shoulder. “Lucille’s already up and sitting in her chair waiting for you. She’ll make you better.” He patted my head again, and, when we got to Aunt Lucy, seated in the kitchen, I unwrapped my arms from around him. She reached out, clutched me, and sat me in the middle of her lap. I turned around to face her while my uncle left the room.

“Son,” she said. “Listen, Stop fussing with that earache.” I had my hand clapped over my ear. She put my hand in my lap, and I looked at her hands, calloused and rough like a man’s, always moving while she spoke. “I reckon I’ll just talk into your good ear then,” she joked, pulling on the one that didn’t hurt none. She lit the Marlboro and breathed in the smoke, looking past me into the darkness outside the kitchen window. I turned and saw nothing. I bent to the side, turned my face toward her, and she moved close. She breathed deeply, and the end of the cigarette lit up her face in the dimness. For a moment only, I saw her eyes, brown, nested in furrows, looking straight at me. She exhaled a long stream of smoke into my ear; I felt a hot wave against a bank of pain. Aunt Lucy, breathing smoke and stories into me, said, “Mama useta say, hof√≥nof, long time ago, that in the beginning it was so foggy you couldn’t see nowheres, not even anyone around you.”



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