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Gia's Song


Nora Naranjo-Morse

Thungjoo Kwa yaa na povi sah
Thungjoo Kwa yaa na povi sah
        Tsay ohi taa geh wo gi wa naa povi sah
        pin povi
        pin povi do mu u da kun
        ka nee na nun dun naa da si tah.
On top of Black Mesa there are flowers
On top of Black Mesa there are flowers
        dew on yellow flowers
        mountain flowers I see
        so far away that it makes me cry.
She opened her eyes slowly,
        as if to awaken from a trance
           cast by a song,
           transporting her to childhood,
        Back to the flowers
        agrowing atop Black Mesa
        so far and yet
        clearly brilliant.
Awake from the song,
        Gia focused on her daughter,
        anxiously awaiting
        to be taught a new song.
The old woman chose to take her time,
        she had learned from experience,
        attention is better paid by children,
        when there is a little pause,
           and mystery
Soon enough Gia spoke . . .
        When I was a young girl,
        my family would camp
        below Kwheng sa po,
        during the farming months.
        We spent most of our days
        following my grandmother
        through rows of corn
        and playing in the streams below.
One day white men came in a wagon,
        telling us about a school for Indians,
        run by the government.
        We were told this school would educate
        and prepare us for jobs in the white man's world.
        None of us knew what any of it meant,
        but these men spoke sweetly
        offering grandmother a roll of baling wire
        for each child that went to school.
        Before we knew what was happening,
        we were sitting in the back of their wagon,
        on our way to government school,
        away from our families,
        to another man's world.
        Often we would cry,
        out of loneliness,
        but this song helped us
        to remember our home."
Gia thoughtfully straightened
the pleats on her skirt,
swallowing the last of her coffee,
Smiling, she continued . . .
        The government school taught sewing,
        I learned on an electric machine.
        By the time I returned to the village I could
        sew, but few of the people had heard of sewing machines,
        or even electricity.
        The machine I learned to operate as my trade
        could not be carried here and there,
        but this song you are learning,
        will always be carried in your heart,
        here and there."

From Mud Woman, Poems from the Clay , University of Arizona Press
© 1992 Nora Naranjo-Morse
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