In a recent post I mentioned walking in her footsteps. This is the rainy season so we have not been able to go on that walk yet.. However, this morning I finished reading the last novel of hers that I had not read–Parable of the Talents. It is the sequel to Parable of the Sower. Now I have read all of them. She is buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, CA, Eagles View Lot 4517. The inscription on her gravestone is the theme of both the books above:
Years ago while visiting Albuquerque or Santa Fe, I acquired a Zuni puma fetish. It is the only fetish I own. I bought it because it is a puma, the Directional Guardian and prey god of the North, representing independence, personal power, intensity, and loyalty, carried by travelers to protect their journey. It resides on a dresser in my bedroom, watching over me, protecting my life journey.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my puma obsession extends to researching them and writing poems about them. The following poem was originally published in my book, “On the Rim of Wonder”.
Last evening I attended a new exhibit at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. The exhibit featured moccasins, paintings, and various artifacts made by different Great Plains tribes, including a headdress worn by Quanah Parker. The exhibit also contains many old photographs. A number of Comanches were present including a lady over 100 years old.
After I left the exhibit, I kept thinking about it and wondered how current Comanches might feel when they come to something like this which in many ways honors them but also displays a past that will never return. While contemplating, I wrote this poem about what I saw.
moons of work.
now encased in glass, labelled, dated by someone’s guess,
for strangers who believe in a strange god,
desecrate the land,
waste invaluable water,
kill bears for sport.
Palo Duro Canyon, Comanche Country, where they made their last stand and were forced to go to a reservation in Oklahoma after federal troops killed over a thousand of their horses.
4/16 European–two Swiss German great, great-grandfathers
(Werth and Kaiser), Irish, English and who knows what
3/16 Mexican–whatever mixtures that may be
Who am I? What am I?
Who are you? What are you?
Do we really know?
Who sets the rules?
from where and for whom?
He looks Navaho:
-blue black straight hair
-pale brown skin
One four year old girl asks him,
“Are you American Indian?”
His six year old self says nothing.
“Are you American Indian?”
He says, “It’s complicated.”
The Navaho won’t claim him, too little blood.
He needs 1/4, not 1/8.
Caddy and Fort Sill Apache allow 1/16, not Navahos.
1/4 blood is for
1/8 works for Comanche and Pawnee.
Some Cherokees only want a Cherokee ancestor.
But he is none of those.
Is he Navaho?
Is he white?
The old South goes by the one drop rule:
one drop of Negro…
Is a person with 99/100 per cent white
and 1/100 black, black?
Kids at school ask, “What are you?”
He tells them.
They say, “You’re lying.”
I only know specifically about two ancestors,
the Swiss Germans.
Another great grandfather disappeared during the Civil War.
I don’t even know his name.
Who am I?
Who are you?
I think I’ll get a DNA test.
Then I’ll know how many pieces I need to cut myself into.
Note: This was originally published in my book “On the Rim of Wonder”. I had a cousin send me 75 pages of ancestry information. I looked up more myself. That one great grandfather remains a mystery. I had my DNA done. It did not match what I expected from the ancestry work.
Blood quantum is the term the US government used to determine whether a person would be qualified as an Indian. Now many Indian Nations use it to decide who can be on the tribal rolls and who cannot.
When I was twenty something, I chose happiness, not the sappy, syrupy, cheery, but a deeper joy of cherishing the small, the unique, the everyday, smiling with sunsets, the song of the mockingbird in spring, horses running free, the nearly invisible bobcat climbing the canyon wall, the taste of fine coffee at the first wakeful moments in the morning, cooking for friends, taking a “property walk” with my grandson, laughing with the teenagers I teach. I am driven to do little–obsessions, compulsions do not run me. I choose. Choose life, choose joy, or choose whining, choose lamenting. Choose!! Be who you want to be; do what you want to do.
Note: this is a poem from my book, “On the Rim of Wonder”.
Checked my Facebook today and this quote showed up–posted by a fellow friend and author. It is from Ann Lamont:
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
Note: In spite of a few men having referred to me as a scandalous woman after reading my book, “On the Rim of Wonder”, I still have not been sued for slander. It has been a few years. I think I am safe. Always tell your truth. Be open to adventure. Live your life. Be the best you that you can be.