Final Solution: Jobs, Leaving


Simon Ortiz

    They would leave
on Sundays from the depot in Grants.
It seemed always, always, so final.
Goodbye. Goodbye Daddy. Daddy,
please come back. Please don't go.
Daddy. But they would leave.

    We had to buy groceries,
had to have clothes, homes, roofs,
windows. Surrounded by the United States,
we had come to need money.

    The solution was to change,
to leave, to go to jobs.

    The children would cry.
    The women would be so angry.
    So angry.
    Silent, we left.
We didn't want to leave, but
we left.

    "I don't want you and your brothers
to ever have to work for the railroad."
They kept the railroad repaired,
and the trains raced through
their land. Hearts. Blood. Bones
and skin. Wrenched muscles.
"You ever pick up a rail?
With your bare hands." Your sweat
burning in your eyes. Blood. Heart.
Skin. Bones. And they died too.
"I hope." How much they hated,
how much they hoped. How much.

    American Fork, Utah, February, 1959.
Dear Mama & Children,
I hope you are all well
as I am. Children, help your mother
and take care of each others
and around our home. Remember
that you must always love
your mothers. Think of the prayers
for the land. Mama, I wish
I was home with all of you.
I will be home in a few weeks.
I love you all. Make sure
you feed the horses. My love
and hugs to each of you and Mama,

    Saw him in Seligman.
Or was it Valentine. Or Phoenix.
Or somewhere. "He step off
the train. That was the last time
I saw him. My friend." Tears.
Wine doesn't work. They died too.

    One week, two weeks, three weeks,
months, we waited. Years.
Train. O Daddy, O Daddy. Train
would come thundering, thundering
thundering toward us. Hearts.
Blood. Bones and skin. Love
and hope. O Daddy. Please train.

    The children would laugh or cry
    or be so silent.
    The women were so angry.

Yes, we would wait again. Weeks, weeks, months, but not those years again. O Daddy, never those years. never again those years. Our own solution will be strength: hearts, blood, bones, skin, hope and love. The woman anger and courage risen as the People's voice again.

From Woven Stone by Simon Ortiz, Vol. 21, in Sun Tracks an American Indian Literary Series, University of Arizona Press
© 1992 Simon Ortiz Buy Now

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)

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