Out to Tsaile Lake


Simon Ortiz

By the lakeside,
there was a woman and a man.

I asked them how many fish they'd caught.
We just got here, the man said.

A little white dog snarled and barked at me.
The woman stuck her fishing rod at the dog
and called, Amy, Amy, pipe down,
it's alright, it's just an Indian.

I asked them where they were from.
We just got here, the man said again.

Out of the clear blue sky,
the man said, Coming up the road
from Grants we saw a turrible wreck.
Guess it was maybe some Indians.
They was kinda scattered around
and no ambulance in sight.

The little dog kept snarling at me.

The woman stuck her fishing rod at the man
and said, He said to me this morning,
Let's go out ro Tsaile Lake,
Indian fish are maybe hungry.

The little white dog kept on snarling.
Amy, Amy, calm down, don't fret yourself.

Around a bend of the lake,
a Navajo man was fishing too.
I told him I was from Ácoma.
He said he was from Shiprock.
He said, I work ten years in the mines.
Underground, in Colorado.
I work at Ambrosia Lake too, underground.
It's too wet. I'm not no gopher,
I'm a dry Navajo. He laughed. Underground.
So I quit and now I'm looking.

Maybe I have to go back to Colorado.
Underground. He said, At Ambrosia Lake,
I work with big Ácoma guy name Concho.
I got my dog, pointing
to a huge St. Bernard pulling a chain,
at Milan's in Gallup.
Mexican guy need cash and I got it.
Because he's a big one,
I call my dog Concho
for big Ácoma miner.
Laughing, I said, When I see Concho
I'll tell him there's a big dog
named for him in Navajo country.

Yeah, the Navajo man said,
I hope I get a job pretty soon.
It cost too much to live with no money.
I went to Albuquerque to buy a truck.
I almost have it at Galles Chevy
but they call BIA in Window Rock
and they say I have to give them
five hundred dollars more
before they give it to me.
Dammit, I already have one thousand
in cash from selling my cows
and if they didn't want it, forget it.
I said, Hell with it,
you don't want my money I'll keep it.
Man can't get credit these days
for being alive. Laughing,
I laughed with him. He said,
Maybe I have better luck with fish.

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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