Navajo Mountain

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.

Related Poems

Let There Be

for Jaiden Peter Morgan

A good poem
is summer
                 my nephew said 
             mirage rising 
from corn fields
pollen on our tongues
each syllable 
flecked with sunbeams
and names not said 
shiye’ you should know 
the voice isn’t ours alone
    but a dwelling space
    a hooghan’s
    cool inner darkness
    before ceremony 
    it is you 
    who will heal 
    these wounds
a good poem 
is song
            I said
so let there be mountains
singing in all directions
let there be laughter
uninterrupted and innocent 
shiye’ what joy you are

Prayer for Words

         My voice restore for me.

Here is the wind bending the reeds westward,
The patchwork of morning on gray moraine:


Had I words I could tell of origin,
Of God’s hands bloody with birth at first light,
Of my thin squeals in the heat of his breath,
Of the taste of being, the bitterness,
And scents of camas root and chokecherries.

And, God, if my mute heart expresses me,
I am the rolling thunder and the bursts
Of torrents upon rock, the whispering
Of old leaves, the silence of deep canyons.
I am the rattle of mortality.

I could tell of the splintered sun. I could
Articulate the night sky, had I words.

Wicaŋhpi Heciya Taŋhaŋ Uŋhipi

(We Come from the Stars)

Stellar nucleosynthesis.
That explains 
where everything

in our universe

came from according to astrophysicists who 
only recently discovered the cosmological constant causing
the expansion

of our universe.

Our creation story tells us we came from the stars to this place Bdote
where the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers converge,
our journey along the Wanaġi Caŋku, 

in our universe,

that stargazers later called the Milky Way now disappearing 
in the excessive glow of a million million urban uplights. 
The original inhabitants of this place,

of our universe,

we are Wicaŋhpi Oyate, People
and will remain here as long as 
we can see ourselves 

in the stars.