If you close your eyes
and take a deep breath
you can hear the green sage sing
The gray stones beneath you
feel young again
The breeze watches
it all with her Mona Lisa smile
Naatsis’áán takes it all in
The thunder of a hundred hooves,
whoops and hollers of the crowd,
the intensity of the riders
as in the day of wild warriors
on the warpath.
There are chicken pulls, children’s foot races,
Navajo cake, kneel-down bread, drum songs
K’é shakes the roots of the mountain,
which gives the people her blessing
as does Sun God
with gentle warm breath.
The story I heard
was that the people
returned from Hwéeldi
and found strangers in their home.
Ashiih Litso just a boy, risked everything
on one horse race
and was blessed by the Holy People.
Another story goes that the mountain protected the people,
keeping soldiers away
and they never had to make the Long Walk.
Whichever story you live by,
the mountain remembers.
Eehaniih celebrates her,
head of the earth.
Copyright © 2022 by Norla Chee. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 14, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.