Tradition and Change


Nora Naranjo-Morse

My mission was to sell pottery from booth 109,
        so early that morning I drove to San Ildefonso.
I expected this market of arts and crafts to be full,
        a full day in many ways.
        Hundreds of steel-framed booths
        filled the center of the pueblo.
        Cars streamed in at a steady pace,
        while Summer's heat became relentless.
        Oh yes, and there were people, all kinds, from everywhere,
        looking to buy, with spend in their eyes.
        Maybe for pottery.
               I hoped so.
        Too expensive, Myrtle," I heard a man say to his wife,
        as she reached for one of my clay forms,
        his words pressing her onward to the next booth.
        If it was jewelry they were looking for, this was the place.
        Everything, from finely crafted turquoise inlaid bracelets
        to Mickey Mouse earrings set in mother of pearl,
        his nose in jet, and those shorts of Mickey's
        painted in coral stone.
The Summer's temperature rose as a loudspeaker
        blared continuous news of a disco dance
        being held that evening in another pueblo.
        Warning visitors to stay off the kiva steps,
        and reminding us that Navajo tacos were being sold
        at any one of eight refreshment stands
        along the outer wall of the village.
        A candidate for governor hurried by,
        shaking hands almost desperately
        with anyone who looked of voting age.
It was at that moment I turned away, trying to shake off
        this state I had entered.
        You know, that state of mind that displaces you
        for just a second.
        Oh yes,
        oh yes, this is San Ildefonso Pueblo in the 90's.
All this made me wonder where our people were headed,
        what our ancestors would think about a Navajo Taco
        going for $3.75.
        I thought about changes affecting our tradition,
        change and tradition,
        on this hot, full day.

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