Monday, November 28, 2016

Final Poem for Native American Heritage Month and Standing Rock

We are ending Native American Heritage Month in a few days, and throughout the entire month, militarized police have been violently attacking the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, leaving hundreds with hypothermia and injuries, especially one elder in cardiac arrest, one young woman with a torn retina, and one young woman with an arm that she may lose, even after several surgeries. This poem is one I wrote about rivers and the concept of river, and perhaps it will offer a different way of looking at these great entities of creation beyond the concept of commodity or barrier to profit. Too often we forget that water is truly life.


The Cherokee call me Long Man,
yun wi gun hi ta,
because my body stretches and unravels
with my head in the mountains
and my feet resting in the ocean.
I constantly speak words of wisdom
to those who can understand me—
fewer every day.
It takes a quality of attention
fit for magicians or poets.
I have much to tell those
who expend the time and energy to listen.
I have seen so many things.
I know the history of rain
intimately, leaning on the world
to feel it on my skin
and take it inside me
to swell my body. Maybe,
they should have called me Long Woman.

I remember when
the mountains were home only to gods.
I knew your ancestors,
now tangled in the ground.
I swallowed my share and more.
I have seen innumerable generations
living into their deaths.
I am acquainted with the bones of earth,
ancient as the word of God
and stronger by far.
Men have tried forever
to change me and chain me,
but I still wander where I will
when I grow tired of being tame.
I remain the promise of tomorrow,
the hope of new growth
that haunts the night with hypnotic murmurs
and softens the edge between act and dream.

When all hope has fled,
come to me.

Published in TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism, 2015


  1. I like the poem very much, but the last couplet is the zinger. Thank you.