Ode to a Drunk Woman


Nia Francisco

dear lady earth
swollen lips
          your beauty
          comes and goes
those shoes you wear
                            muddy "tennies"
you don't know a tennis game
not even an experience of that game
but those tennies stagger
to a bootlegger's joint
      dear lady dusty
bundled warm this warm day
you stand by a highway
possibly hitching
from Eddie's, to Tropic's, to Navajo Inn
                            i saw you wearing your scarf
red yellow flowers covering your head
      a scarf shadowing your dark skin
             a face that is only a face
and in the shadow of the scarf
      bloodshot eyes sparkle
             sad and thirsty
          dear lady
                            with "roma" delusions
my ancestors beaded inside you
          you are my mother
          mother see us
we are sober       but drunk
             with pain
caused by the same damn shame you learned
      as your children we'll stay
             and our delusions
                                     are colorful
             red yarn tied around braids
      our minds twisting
             in rage to overcome

that same damn shame you learned
only now I see
we remain like you, mother
again hitching again
from Albuquerque to Gallup to Window Rock, Chinle
             and the shadows
          of distant clouds
             hiding our red tired faces
dear lady drunk
          we are together again
          and we love you still
          as our mother clan

From Blue Horses for Navajo Women by Nia Francisco, Greenfield Review Press
© 1988 Nia Francisco

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