towastamp picture



Nora Naranjo-Morse

Before communities of strangers settled,
        marking Pueblo boundaries
        and changing the arid
        open landscape forever,
        there were the people of Black Mesa,
        who called themselves Towa.
People whose clear, brown eyes witnessed
        star explosions high above them,
        against a celestial canvas of darkness.
        the Towa were filled with mystery,
                and reverence
                   for the universe encircling them.
        Reverence gave birth to ritual,
        celebration wove ceremony
        into songs that blanketed the village
        with life-giving spirit.
Planting nourishment for the children of Puye,
        with steady handwork,
        bedding seeds of corn,
                        and beans.
Drum beats pounded upward,
        introducing a new season's fertile ground.
        Nimble fingers pressing seedlings into earth beds,
                 covering and smoothing
                   in perpetual motion,
                        connecting each Towa
                            to the cycle of plant life.
From the heavens, to the rain-drenched earth beds,
        to the seedlings ripened into colored corn.
From the harvest to the Corn Dance.
        Clay-skinned people,
        danced with willowlike movements,
        then melted quietly into waiting earth beds.
        Seedlings creating another
            and yet another of these Towa.
        The plant and human life cycle,
            equal in symmetry.
This was before change disrupted night's mystery
and other world views crowded into Pueblo boundaries
        Now Towa rush to their jobs outside of village walls,
        adapting to standards unlike their own.
        Dressing our clay-skinned bodies
        in image conscious fashion,
        we stroke this new life of comfort.
Yet, somewhere in us,
        persistent sounds surge upward
        reminding us of our life cycles,
           and the innocent wonder
            that is our birthright,
                as children of the Towa.

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