"They must be at the Town Line by now, Ma, they been hoofen it for nigh on half an hour by my watch. I slip it back into my coveralls. It's a good day for a rest on the old front porch. Still in love with my second wife sitting here beside me. Cottons about half picked and the Negroes that help out from Millerville are at a funeral and Cecil wanted to go to town with his little brother. I reach over and pat the hound dog on the rump and scratch his old yeller head. "What was you wanten ta talk to me about, Ma?" I look over at her and she has her eyes closed in the sun. Just like when I came to help her daddy in 1891 top the cotton and fell in love. Then fell in love with her three-year-old son. We got married and had a son of our own. It's a big farm and I'm usually up early fixin' this or doin' that and all the while Sirina's up here looking after the house and the boys and doin' her cooking. I pull my little brother off the dirt road and onto the sidewalk as we make our way into town to the Registry Office. I been to school, not like Ma or Pa, and while he's a good farmer, he's old fashioned and cottons on the way out. Chickens are on the way in. I read the paper when I came here last and that's where I saw and article by Guion Miller 'bout registering for land before August 31, 1907, next month that is. Right up off the road and right on to the sidewalk! He practically picked me right up into the air and then he put his arm around my shoulder and smiled at me! He doesn't do that much, usually just pushes me around. Trees are shady and it's cool where we walk past the house of my cousin Lecta, past the soda shop and we don't stop. We walk right to the center of the town square and up the steps of the court house. High above the town, the long pitched screeeee of an eagle as it comes into view. I said it was just a bird but Cecil said it was an eagle. Clear blue sky all around a breezeless day. Eagle dips in front of the sun, coming closer into town. Huge wings and the door is shut on my view. Heart beats faster as I drag William up the steps to the court house to find the Registry Office and he's standing and looking out over the city. His body relaxes and he lifts himself up on his heals searching for something. I close the door behind us and we walk down the long dark hall. William is not interested in this place so I send him over to his cousin's house, they are the same age, so they can go for a soda. I walk up to the Registry Office. "I gotta tell Pa, when he came by the farm to help my daddy and we fell in love and married down the road in Listra church and I had a son from my first husband and I love him dearly. I gotta tell him I love him still and I been thinking that both he and Cecil should know that he was dropped off one mornin' for me to care for and so I adopted him. He wasn't my dead husband's son, but Pa's asleep in his chair and the boys are still gone and it's still hot and I'm tired. I was up in the hall with my sister Leita, looking out the window when I saw a big bird flying over the houses and the trees and the school. Off down the road I see my cousins coming into town again and see Cecil and William walk in front of my house. I got a smile on my face and I'm happy when I have my cousin to play with but when I get to the front porch, they just walk on by? They walk on by the soda shop? It is hot. The bird overhead is coming closer to the tree tops. I go out onto the sidewalk and follow them down the street in my new shoes, and across the square. Cecil goes into the Court House and I am standing on the corner. People pass by, grownups mostly minding their own business and some not. All of a sudden William comes out of the Court House and he sees me. I could go for a soda. On the wall of the Registry Office there is a notice that is strange to me but familiar. There are some boys my age in the room and I think they look like me and they talk to me like I am a brother and I don't know them but I see me in their eyes and hair and skin. The notice reads: Land Claims On May 18, 1905 the U.S. Court of Claims ruled in favor of the Eastern Cherokee and directed the Secretary of the Interior to identify persons entitled to a portion of the money appropriated by the U.S. Congress on June 30, 1906, to be used for payment of the claims. Special Agent Guion Miller, Dept. of Interior began this work and is appointed by the U.S. Court of Claims as a Court Special Commissioner. The Court decree specifies that the money or land is to be distributed to all Eastern & Western Cherokees alive on May 28, 1906, who could establish that they are members of the Eastern Cherokee Tribe or descendants of such members. They could not be members of any other tribe. All claims must be filed prior to August 31, 1907. "Pa has to know that the woman who dropped off my Cecil was an Indian from these parts. I feel anxious and my mouth is dry. Pa, wake up there's something I gotta tell ya. Cherokee she was." "... and do you affirm by your signature that you are a Cherokee? Mr. Miller says to me and I want this so bad and in my heart and through my mouth I say ... Yes. Outside I hear the eagle scream, screeee, screeee... * * * "I'm ... here." I said in the air between my lips and the telephone. The sun warmed down on me through the window and the phone was still there, wedged between my ear and my shoulder. Screee... No one on the other end. Was I talking or listening, awake or dreaming? The high-pitched scream of the phone is quieted when I place it back on the receiver and get up out of this chair. Flick off the computer and turn off the screen. Sky is still clear but the sun has moved to the other side of the apartment building and as I look out the window a feather falls from some bird passing overhead calling in the cold afternoon sun.