on wind roads
only he knows
how to follow
to the center.
Hawk's bright eyes
read trees, stones,
points in horizon,
movements, how wind
and shadows play
tricks, and sudden
which reminds him
of his empty stomach.
A Tuba City girl asks me
if I ever write from paintings.
I tell her that I write
with visions in my head.
I'm walking out of Gallup.
He calls, "Hey, my fren,
where you going too fas'?"
I smile for his good thoughts.
A wind vision.
if you look into the Chinle Valley,
you will see the Woman's cover,
a tapestry her Old Mother worked
for 10 million years or so.
On the way south to the junction,
I looked to the northeast
and couldn't decide whether that point
in the distance beyond the Defiance uplift
was Sonsela Butte or Fluted Rock.
The L. A. Kid was a city child
and a Navajo rodeo queen,
who said she'd seen me on the road
coming out of Window Rock,
said her friend had said,
"I think that was him;
we just passed him up,"
and felt so bad,
said she was born in L. A.
but wasn't really a city girl
and visited her homeland
every Summer, and said
her mother was from Lukachukai.
Bear occurs several times, of course:
The day before I went to Many Farms,
received a card from Snyder,
said he'd "spent a day watching grizzly bear"
grizzling at the San Diego Zoo.
Navajo girl had a painting of Bear
He was facing east and looking up.
A line was drawn through him,
from chest to tail, rainbow muted colors,
and I said, "That line seems to be both
the horizon and the groundline where you start."
She told me what the people say.
Don't ever whistle at night where bears are,
because female bears do that
when there are courting bears around.
Remember that: don't whistle
in the dark, horny Bear night.
That Navajo girl asked me
what I thought about polygamy.
I told her I thought it was a good idea
but not for keeps, and we laughed.
I wonder how many wives Bear has?
For Monday night supper, we had
mutton ribs, round steak,
good Isleta bread, tortillas,
broccoli, green chili, potatoes,
gravy, coffee, and apple pie.
The mutton was tough and Francis said,
"You gotta be tough
to live on this land."
After I got out of the back
of a red pickup truck,
I walked for about a mile
and met three goats, two sheep and a lamb
by the side of the road.
I was wearing a bright red wool cap
pulled over my ears,
and I suppose they thought I was maybe weird
because they were all ears and eyes.
I said, "Yaahteh, my friends.
I'm from Acoma, just passing through."
The goat with the bell jingled it
in greeting a couple of times.
I could almost hear the elder sheep
telling the younger, "You don't see many
Acoma poets passing through here."
"What would you say that the main theme
of your poetry is?"
"To put it as simply as possiblr,
I say it this way: to recognize
the relationships I share with everything."
I would like to know well the path
from just east of Black Mountain
to the gray outcropping of Roof Butte
without having to worry
about the shortest way possible.
I worried about two women discussing how
to get rid of a Forming Child
without too much trouble, whether
it would be in the hospital in Gallup
or in Ganado.
Please forgive my worry and my concern.
"Are you going to Gallup, shima?"
"One dollar and fifty cents, please."
From Woven Stone by Simon Ortiz, Vol. 21, in Sun Tracks an American Indian Literary Series, University of Arizona Press
© 1992 Simon Ortiz
Books by Simon Ortiz
- Woven Stone, Simon Ortiz, Univ. Arizona Press. (Hardcover)
- Men on the Moon : Collected Short Stories, Simon Ortiz, Univ. Arizona Press. (Hardcover)
- After and Before the Lightning , Simon Ortiz, Univ. Arizona Press. (Hardcover)
- Speaking for the Generations : Native Writers on Writing, Simon Ortiz (Editor), Univ. Arizona Press.
- From Sand Creek : Rising in This Heart Which Is Our America, Simon Ortiz, Univ. Arizona Press.
- The People Shall Continue, Simon Ortiz, Children's Book Press. (Library Binding)
Return to Day 3