The wind and sand set about
scrubbing the skin from my body
the myelin from my nerves
the meat from my bones
So the sun can bleach them
An elemental purification no less violent for being silent.
Georgia O’Keefe got the good desert while
I got the sandworms and sunburns.
She called it “vast and empty and untouchable,”
so, well, maybe I do belong here now, or
my grief at least does.
And since I am the embodiment
for that particular pathology,
You know it’s bad when
you start admiring the
ease of the tumbleweeds and
the poise of the cow skulls.
Even in death, they’ve got me beat.
I want so much to be a cactus
and the cactus doesn’t apologize for hurting
But I was built for the fecund forests back east,
deep dappled shade and leafy loam
gray fox, gray squirrel.
My hair was moss
and skin? Cool river stone.
My home was den and dead tree and warm red dirt.
This desert is arid and scrupling,
hostile to my body of water.
Water is my life
but I’m not ready to change
I can’t adapt
not with an attitude like that
I feel like I’m dying
I’m working so hard and
you haven’t even folded the laundry
I’m hungry, what’s for dinner?
dinner? Dying people don’t need to eat
I’m not dying
so I’m losing you, too? myself, my home, and you now too?
why don’t you go take a nap or something. 15 minutes?
<there are no words>
why are you shutting me out?
<there. are. no. words>
I talk to you.
<there are no >
when are you going to be like you used to be?
This trail of tears doesn’t brook u-turns.
Driven west by masked men with long guns and germs
snarling dogs and cracking whips.
I used to have my own language, alphabet,
music, government, religion, art.
I thought I had my family.
I knew every deer path and berry patch
and hill and hollow for five miles around.
I could fish and shoot and weave
start fires, tell stories, rock babies, tan hides.
I’m moved to the reservation because
trash land for trash people.
I’m not the only one.
There are so many others so lonely
our doctors can’t keep us straight.
Pharmas fight over our gold and obeisance
bow and scrape and they’ll let you live a little longer
as long as you can pay.