She Sits on the Bridge


Luci Tapahonso

When Nelson was still running around and drinking years
ago, he was coming home from Gallup
hitch-hiking late at night
and right by Sheepsprings Trading Post-
you know where the turn to Crystal is?
Well, he was walking near there
when he heard a woman laughing somewhere nearby
It was dark there
(there were no lights at the trading post then)
he couldn't see anyone but he stopped and yelled out
Where are you? What happened to you?
but she kept laughing louder and louder
and then she started to cry in a kind of scream.
Well, Nelson got scared and started running
then right behind him - he could hear her running too.
She was still crying and then he stopped             she stopped also
She kept crying and laughing really loud
coming behind him and she caught up with him.
He knew even if he couldn't see her.
She was gasping and crying
right close to him - trying to catch her breath.
He started running again faster and off to the side
he saw some lights in the houses against the hill
and he ran off the road towards them
then she stopped and stayed on the highway
still laughing and crying very loudly.
When Nelson got to the houses
he heard people laughing and talking
they were playing winter shoe games inside there.
But a little ways away was a hogan with a light inside
he went there and knocked
Come in     a voice said
An old man (somebody's grandpa) was there alone
and upon seeing him said
Come in!     What happened to you?
and started to heat up some coffee.
Nelson told the old grandpa about
the woman crying on the road.
You don't know about her? he asked.
She sits on the bridge sometimes late at night.
The wind blows through her long hair.
We see her sitting in the moonlight or
walking real slow pretending to be going to Shiprock.
We people who live here know her and
she doesn't bother us.
Sometimes young men driving by pick her up -
thinking she wants a ride and after riding a ways
with them - she disappears right in front of them.
She can't go too far away, I guess.
That's what he told Nelson
Stirring his coffee.
Nelson stayed there in the hogan that night
and the old grandpa kept the fire going until morning.

From Earth Power Coming edited by Simon J. Ortiz, Navajo Community College Press.
© 1983 Luci Tapahonso

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