Teec Nos Pos

She looks at me as though I'm about to tell her something
I look at her like I'm listening for what she has to say

The moment passes

I pay her for the Indian taco and thank her for
directions to Mexican Water another thirty miles from Teec Nos Pos

(though I really didn't need to ask)

Tune the radio to the Navajo station
driving past Rabbit Ears--outlandish rocks

Rapid-fire barrage of glottal stops and gutteral utterances
I close my eyes and imagine I'm hearing Hebrew--

Have I landed upon the twelfth lost tribe of Israel?
Gibber jabber Texaco station gibber jabber

Behclabito Day School, Juan Castillo, D.D.S.
It was a war of words in WW II's intelligence gathering

Navajo code talkers confounding the enemy Japanese
Then was the time for every good man to come to the aid of his

Now is the time for government housing and government cheese
in the land of the free and the home of the braves

Two point two miles of dirt road leads to the Spanish mission at Mexican Water
The door is locked because it isn't Sunday

So I read the plaque
Back on the road to Tez Nez Iah

Trading Post at Dinnehotso Pass the trail that leads
to Greasewood Flat

Beyond Comb Ridge and Little Capitan Valley take John Ford's stagecoach
to technicolor Monument Valley off to the right

Me see-um cowboys and Indians
overpriced tee shirts at the visitor's center

And all that shit
Caveat emptor--the turquoise rings are chemically dyed

I gallop up to the Tribal Park entrance
leaving the rest to eat my dust

They tower before me, stupendous, impossibly symmetrical--
left and right--the famous Mitten Buttes

Earth's hands reach up toward me
were I the sky

Finding no place in infinite blue
plummet to ground and feel

Every mistake I've ever made
scratched across the flawless empyrean

Blood-red sand sifts through fingers
that yearn to penetrate unyielding rock to try them on

I drive past a Navajo boy and his sheepdog
that stand in the doorway of his hogan and search

Inscrutable obsidian eyes: Whose land is this?

Does it belong to Captain Brittles, Sargeant Rutledge, or my
darling Clementine?
The Sierra Club, Ansel Adams, National Park Service,

The conquistadores, Navajo, or Anasazai--
who are 'the Ancient Ones'?

Must it belong to anyone?

Stand at the colossal monolith called The Thumb
sulking in-- what? some New Age atavism

If I could suck The Thumb it wouldn't bring me solace
To emerge hyperventilating from Echo Cave wouldn't be a rebirthing

I can't help but be an interloper here

Suddenly, a wind kicks up Black clouds charge like stampeding buffalo, and
raining down on Hondo in his Honda awash in seas of blood-red mud

Wheels spin, the carburetor gasps, then sputters to a halt
The pimply faced Injun at the service station grins snidely

Breath reeking of Colt .45 and the piety of ancestors
What's good for GM is good for the Navajo nation

No imported parts around these parts
Repairs will take another day

I pitch my tent and toss and turn on sticks and stones
Awake at dawn to face the East

Rub the sleep from my eyes, stamp the blood back in my feet
and remind myself to walk in beauty

Brant Lyon

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