A Space for Writers of the World
The axis of the earth is hinged onto the belly of the creator.
But somewhere along the way, foreigners have dragged the earth in the wrong direction.
Delivers so-called equality.
Our sovereignty is constrained to: domestic and dependent;
Descendants and blood quantum;
Powwow drums and plume feathers.
Of American Indians starts in 1492
Yet our people lived here thousands of years before that.
We have forgotten Diné Bahane’ our creation story of emergence into the fourth world.
The shovels dig deeper,
The holy people warned us not to touch the yellow sand.
Tunnels of coal mining infects the earth.
Our four mountains have separated, but have not moved.
Where is our holy land?
The barbed wire lines the
Horizon, better known as my forehead.
It pierces the crown of my skull
And the ocean licks at the scabs on by body.
A tomb enthroned on salt and bitter water.
The blood runs thin here,
Spread sparse between family members and tribal print clothing.
It all bled out like the war soldiers that were drafted and forced to the front lines
Spilling out of gunshots
It ages in the veins of the elders
It overflows and diminishes…Thinned with the blood of other races.
When I asked the creator what I’d done to deserve the borders stitched into my side, he called back to me saying I’ve been infected.
I was prescribed with commodity cheese and cheap beer
My legs are pinpricked with needles extracting marrow from my bones
4 dollars a gallon.
It’s high tide and the ocean foam embalms my body.
Sun, I look at you and close my eyes.
One hundred years later and our skin will be white…
I can see it already:
They’ll say to one another “Let’s get our purses ready to go ethnic shopping”
Where’s the nearest Golden Corral? Because that’s the closest thing to home.
They should make a hopscotch game with the patches of Navajo land
Because I’d probably win.
I’d walk so fast that I moon walk through the checker board
And I laugh every time I’m in the rez.
We’ve adapted to government food and frybread.
Here we breathe out spearmint gum breath
And sip on coffee with Sweet’n Low in the morning.
Outside you can see the orange Cheeto dust swirl in the wind north of the school playground.
Over there! –pointing with your lips.
The kids fight over food their mothers bought at Bashas’
Or throw rocks at the rez dogs
Some sit huddled by the building trying to use the Wi-Fi on their prepaid phones
They stand together like they’re in a drumming circle.
Then in hushed tones, they try to whisper secrets to their crushes.
They mustn’t talk to loud
or they’ll get detention.
We go to round dance and bring home the sexiest native we can find… that’s not related to us.
We all ride low in our rez cars bumping our bumpers up against each other like lovers
Our hips grind speaking broken English and Navajo love.
We start hitting and giving bruises because we know we have IHS
The men at bars perform a frenzy of swings and kicks in sync to a choreograph of violence that they’ve been practicing since they were kids.
The curses from their lips spill out like a memorized chant…
The oil lamps that light our rez homes flicker out.
Ya’at’eeh shí chei
The grandfather horney-toad crawls on my chest.
“The coyote is not one to talk with
He does not laugh with the boozers that roll around like tumbleweeds
Or sit by the house to defend it.
He’s the trickster and steals the stars.”
Grandfather horney-toad, I know that story.
Our grandma seems to be immortal: outliving three wars and boarding school; John Kennedy and Richard Nixon; and tuberculosis and arthritis.
Her husband fought in the Korean War.
The ocean swallowed him up like Jonah and
He came back with yellow eyes and hate for his country.
When he walks, he limps.
One leg always wanting to go back to his hometown…
I look around and see red earth:
When we remove our sunglasses, our eyes burn from white skin who suddenly surround this land.
Our ceremonies are sacred so when did they become a commodity?
We sit bartering our beadwork, and art, and frybread tacos.
Our blood knows no fractions but we bleed quantum numbers.
And stumble in a drunken haze.
We point with our lips.
We go north and to the east,
then back home.
Sierra Edd is a Diné artist and poet, studying her second year at Brown University. She is considering Ethnic studies and Visual Arts as a concentrations. She’s a past recipient of the SWAIA youth fellowship at the Santa Fe Indian market and has work in the Navajo Nation museum.