WYG 3: A Landscape So Changed

 

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
the meatmobile
for that particular pathology,
well.

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.
No contest.

I want so much to be a cactus
thick skin
spines
needles
spikes
and the cactus doesn’t apologize for hurting
anybody.

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
was
my life
but I’m not ready to change

I can’t adapt
try harder

can’t evolve
not with an attitude like that

I feel like I’m dying
you’re fine

I’m working so hard and
you haven’t even folded the laundry

but
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 >
feeling sexy?

<no, I>
I’m normal!

<I know>
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
because
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.

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