Love and Words

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speak for me slowly (for Zia)

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Speak for me, 

slowly,

and let me hear

the words I once knew

again in my ears. 


Say them softly, 

let my memories wake.

Speak for me slowly,

and let my fingers trace

the shape

your lips make.


Tell me not

of the things you plan to say,

while the sun is shining

and my dreams are fading away.


Let us talk 

of practical things in the light,

for of this I can speak

quite fluently.


Look, I will show you how to begin, 

how to speak

of things that have come to mean

more than the language 

of our dreams.

To the point that the words are forgot,

their meanings

becoming symbols 

of other things.


We will talk of practical things

and things that mean naught.

 

Look now you, 

let's talk about my boots.

They are old.

They tell me of my feet. 

Good they are, 

and long lasting.


Not till now

have I noticed

that the prints they leave,

could have been

from any man.


I take them off when I sleep.

I put them on when I wake.


I take them off when I dance,

when my feet must

pound the ground

to shake loose the rain

and I must be free

of all the white man's things.


I put them on when I am done

and go to the church.

I light my candle

and promise my god

my dance means nothing.

that the printed words made in a factory,

mean more to me than rain.


That my dance is for tourists

out grown and un-needed,

that my dance is finally known

as a saintly thing.

 

I silence my heels

so they make no sound,

so no one 

is bothered

by my presence here.

No one knows

 it is my weight on the ground.


That is the way

we are taught.


See that hawk above.

In my grandfather's time

we were taught it meant the coming of great things.

Now, 

the bird circles 

only the dead

and dying,

and the young take out their guns 

for practice.


My children shuffle through the sand,

listening to other worlds

and deaf to the land.

Where they used to learn

to listen to their dreams, 

now they plug their ears

with small manufactured things

and cannot even hear the coming of the rain,

for this they must watch TV.


I climb from the mesa

into the hills

and seek out caves

to be alone.

 

I take my boots off

and stand feeling the sand,

thinking that perhaps

I do not understand

what it means to be a man.


Nothing I have been told

fits.


The elders laugh at me,

and say, 

I should be so grateful

to have begun the return

to the Indian Way.


And the priest

frowns at me 

and says, 

'pray, my son, pray.'


No one wants to hear

me question my existence,

No one wants to hear my voice, 


Listen to me now

and I will ask you

while I stand here,

barefoot and away from electric lights,


Am I of this land?

Or am I of Christ?


And you,

the mountain, 

who sits so far away,

I know you have seen more

then you would ever say.

 

So speak to me,

speak for me

who has lost their voice


speak slowly,

so I can follow

the words.

 

Let my memories wake.


Let me place my fingers

in your mouth

and feel the vibration 

of the words I once knew,

and that we once sang

and that we once sang


in some 

forgotten dream.

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decagon          poetry

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